The Clothesline Project: Raising awareness, honoring survivors

To mark October, Domestic Violence Action Month, YWCA Walla Walla will host The Clothesline Project. This nationwide movement amplifies the voices of survivors and victims of intimate partner violence, abuse, and sexual assault, while also raising awareness and understanding.

Picture this: A clothesline hung with T-shirts, each one using words and pictures to tell a story about the impact of violence. A pink shirt might carry a stark message to the perpetrator of a sexual assault about how the assault affected the survivor’s life. An LGBTQ abuse survivor might share on a purple shirt the things that the attack didn’t take away. You can tell at a glance the variety of experiences represented, because each shirt is color coded (see color key below).

Originally conceived as part of the healing process for survivors (and we intend for the project to continue serving that purpose), for the first year of our local project, we have also chosen to open the project to the rest of the community. Domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault: These issues hurt all of us, and speaking out is one more way we can stand up against them.

*WHITE: Someone who died because of violence (Washington State victim stories available for tributes upon request)
*YELLOW, BROWN, or GRAY: Survivor of domestic violence, which can include emotional, spiritual, and
 verbal, as well as physical, abuse
*RED, PINK, or ORANGE: Survivor of rape or sexual assault
*BLUE or GREEN: Survivor of incest or childhood sexual abuse 
*PURPLE: Someone attacked because of their sexual orientation
*BLACK: Someone disabled as the result of an attack or assaulted because of a disability

“Sexual and gender-based violence can have a profound impact,” said YWCA Executive Director Anne-Marie Zell Schwerin, “and in our work we see regular evidence. The Clothesline Project bears witness to violence to spread healing and promote change.”

While recognizing that the majority of sexual assaults and domestic violence incidents target women, YWCA Walla Walla extends an inclusive invitation to survivors, their supporters, and community members to join the cause.

 “There is more than one path to healing,” Anne-Marie said, “and this project offers a chance for anyone to share a message meaningful to them.”

Together, let’s hang out stories of strength,
resilience, and solidarity for all to witness.

The Clothesline Project

Participation in the Saturday afternoon work group at the YWCA or picking up a shirt here requires confidential registration (see form below).

We are also working with our Whitman College advocate and Locally Nourished in Dayton to do site-based work groups. Contact Mary Eaves Mitchell, for Whitman or, in Dayton, Locally Nourished.

  1. YWCA will host a group creative session between 2 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, 213 S. First Ave. Shirts and supplies will be provided at no charge for anyone registered by Thursday, Sept. 28. Unregistered drop-ins are welcome after this time, but shirt availability will not be guaranteed; please bring your own.
  2. You may opt instead to register for a personal kit to complete at your convenience. You can pick up materials at the YWCA office, Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm. You are welcome to take the materials with you, or dedicated space at the YWCA will be available during office hours if you prefer to create your message and embellish a shirt on-site.

Completed shirts will be displayed on the campuses of Whitman College and Providence St. Mary Medical Center in Walla Walla, and at Locally Nourished in Dayton, during the YWCA Week Without Violence, the third week of October.

Together, let’s hang out stories of strength, resilience, and solidarity for all to witness.

All shirts must be returned  by October 10 to be part of a display. For further details and inquiries, please call the YWCA office, 509-525-2570.