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T-shirts on a clothesline are — well — just T-shirts on a clothesline.
But when you add the names of people statewide who have died during the past year as a result of domestic violence, the shirts take on a profound meaning that Charlotte Moss finds hard to describe.
“There’s something overwhelming about seeing a name on a shirt that makes it very real,” said Moss, a local Harrison College medical instructor who, on behalf of the school, began participating in the national Clothesline Project six years ago.
The Clothesline Project started in 1990 in Cape Cod, Mass., to address the issue of violence against women, according to the project’s website. It has grown worldwide and now is intended to bring awareness of all victims of any age or gender.
Moss said she got her students involved originally by having them cut miniature T-shirts from construction paper they tacked to a classroom bulletin board. They transitioned to an actual clothesline the following year. This year, it will hold 62 T-shirts that will be on display starting with a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and continuing throughout October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Moss said she hopes people will drive by and perhaps reflect for a moment at the gravity of what they’re seeing.
Moss said at least one local person each year is inspired by the shirt-hanging ceremony to come forward about their own struggles or a friends’ struggles in an abusive relationship.
Moss said she is opening up the creation of the T-shirts to all Harrison College students this year. That’s because the vast majority of graduates, particularly in the medical profession, at some point will have to deal with a victim of domestic abuse.
“We try to make sure our students know the proper way to talk to victims,” Moss said.
Jessica Smith, prevention services manager at Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, said the Tuesday shirt-hanging ceremony will involve students reading the names of the domestic violence victims who have died in the past year.
She said it is always up to the students to decide what else to put on the shirts besides the victims’ names. In some cases, they might state in one sentence the frank nature of the fatal abuse, such as “blunt force trauma” or “killed by husband.”
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