One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Everytown research organization reports that the rate of intimate partner homicides in Arizona are 45 percent higher than the national average.
According to Psychology Today, domestic violence can affect anyone physically or psychologically. This dangerous behavior forms through control and fear. Every relationship is different but they all have one thing in common, pain.
But, ways to deal with that pain can be universal for all victims and survivors. An outlet for anyone to experience grievances and heartbreak called The Clothesline Project has been sharing peoples stories for over 30 years.
Mesa Community College (MCC) breaks the silence against domestic violence by encouraging survivors and supporters to draw awareness through T-shirt designs, that are then hung around the Southern and Dobson and Red Mountain campuses.
Student Life and Leadership hosted their fourth year of The Clothesline Project by allowing students to design their own t-shirt to display on campus by the Clock Tower.
Each colored T-shirt on the clothesline represents a specific meaning.
White: women who died because of their violence,
Yellow: battered or assaulted women,
Red, Pink, and Orange: survivors of rape and sexual assault,
Blue and green: survivors of incest and sexual abuse,
Purple: women attacked because of their sexual orientation, and
Black: women attacked for political reasons.
Beth Ann Wright, event organizer and program director of Student Life and Leadership, started The Clothesline Project at Red Mountain campus five years ago and decided to bring awareness to the Southern and Dobson campus so that more students could become informed.
“It was something that was impactful for me. Remembering that when I started working at Red Mountain, I decided that it was a project that I wanted to bring there. I actually contacted a faculty member and she gave me a couple of shirts to get started,” Wright said.
Wright mentions that Domestic Violence Awareness Month at MCC holds many different events. But, The Clothesline Project is an event that Chandler-Gilbert, Red Mountain and Southern and Dobson have all carried close to their hearts for years and that’s without including the impact it has made on students nationally.
Students are able to express themselves anonymously whether they have gone through violence or currently going through pain. People who just want to show their support are also welcome to design t-shirts.
Wright’s inspiration came from Kaity’s Way, an organization designed to help teens and adults deal with abusive relationships and educate them on red flags and ways to get out of a toxic situation. Bobbi Sudberry is the mother of Kaity, who died Janurary of 2009, and founder of the non-profit organization because her daughter was a victim to domestic violence.
Kaity Sudberry’s death helped revise the law relating to domestic violence. The law was enacted in September 30, 2009. Kaity’s Law allows protection to anyone in a dating relationship in the state of Arizona.
During October, domestic violence awareness is expressed in many different ways. Last year, an open mic was held at Southern and Dobson campus where students got to share their stories while the clothesline hung behind them, drawing more attention to the tragedies many faces.
Class discussions and lectures are held every year on campus to further inform students on reality of this type of violence. Students have the chance to make T-shirts during these discussions.
“Our students are having relationships and some of them are young and trying to figure things out.” Wright said. “It’s really important to have this discussion and also for other students to realize that like people are going through some of the same things and this is how you can get out of that.”
There are opportunities to carry on this conversation occur even after October. Public Safety at Maricopa Community Colleges plan to create more options for students to feel safe on campus. Amongst conversing with people from Public Safety, Wright believes self-defense classes have been offered in the past and have been a great help for students and faculty members.
“It impacted me as a student; so now, I wanna impact the students I work with,” Wright said.