Friday, November 12, 1999

T-shirts relate messages of abuse victims

Enquirer Contributor

        OXFORD — Each T-shirt in the Ohio Clothesline Project has a heartbreaking story to tell.

        “My dreams were shattered,” reads one. “I'm not going to cry no more,” is written on another. The message on a third shirt: “Love shouldn't hurt.”

        Most of the shirts were decorated by survivors of rape or domestic violence. A few were designed by friends or family members of an abused woman, some shirts serving as memorials to women who died as a result of that abuse.

        The shirts went on display on the campus of Miami University Thursday, through the efforts of several campus organizations.

        “This is our second year doing the Clothesline Project,” said Katie Krueger, a Miami junior from Wisconsin who helped coordinate the campus project. “It is really important to put on campus. Sexual assault is relevant to everyone. We would hope that people would stop to look at it (the display) and it would generate debate or discussion about the issue.”

        Among the brightly colored shirts are some created by Miami students, faculty and staff. Community members have participated as well. Residents of Dove House in Hamilton have contributed shirts to the project. Dove House is a shelter for battered women and their children.

        The Clothesline Project originated in Hyannis, Mass., in the fall of 1990. Since then, projects have spread to communities across the nation. The Ohio Clothesline Project is sponsored by the Ohio Coalition on Sexual Assault (OCOSA), which provides statewide education, support and advocacy on issues of sexual assault. The agency lends the display upon request to organizations throughout the state.

        In the last few years, the New Beginnings Program of Lighthouse Youth Services in Cincinnati has hosted the Clothesline Project. The agen cy continues to encourage its residents to express their feelings by decorating T-shirts.

        “It's a very powerful thing for them,” said Gale Watson, case manager for New Beginnings, adding that the program's adolescent female residents are often victims of abuse.

        The project is on display today and again Monday through Thursday in Miami's academic quad. For more information, call 529-1510.

        Miami University is hosting a workshop for anyone who would like to create a shirt for the Clothesline Project. The session will take place from 7-10 p.m. Wednesday in Room 336 of the Shriver Center. Project sponsors say this will be a confidential, safe space with crisis intervention available. Participants may bring their own shirts and markers or use materials provided at the workshop. Call 529-1510.

        Anyone needing counseling or other help as a result of sexual assault may call the Butler County Rape Crisis Program: 523-4146, 894-7002 or 424-5498. The Warren County Rape Crisis Line is (888) 860-4084 (toll-free).


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