By Liz Friden
If you walked by the Pryzbyla Patio this week you, may have noticed some shirts hanging up. PEERS, Catholic’s peer education group, decorated the patio with t-shirts in an effort to promote awareness for domestic violence. It was called “The Clothesline Project.”
PEERS aims to educate students on everything from drugs, sexual assault, and bystander intervention, to topics like this week’s, domestic violence. The Clothesline Project is a yearly event taking place the first week of October because October is sexual violence prevention month.
This year, the event was run by sophomore KC Doman. It is Doman’s first year on PEERS.
“It is a good way to wrap the whole month together,” Doman said. “To start off the day, we put up shirts that were done in years past to give people an idea of what to write.”
Every day from 10 AM to 2 PM, PEERS members like Doman were sitting on the Pryzbyla Patio talking to students and spreading awareness of the struggle so many women and men go through. The group’s objective was to create a discussion on campus that brought a visible idea to an invisible topic, and they used t-shirts full of love and support as a visible representation of the mission. Students were encouraged to come up and write words of support on the shirts to be hung.
Doman explained that just being there for others can help.
“Everyone is encouraged to write their own message of encouragement to the survivors,” Doman said. “More people want to help than they realize.”
A lot of victims and survivors do not want to share their stories because they are ashamed of them. Society can put victims in a box and stereotype them instead of celebrating their strength to endure and survive.
“Just know that people are there to support you even if you don’t want to talk about it; it is important to know that people are there for you, even if you don’t think they should be there for you,” Doman states. “When someone is in that situation more people want to help them than they realize, and everyone should know that.”
As Doman stated, PEERS used shirts from previous years as a model for students passing by. As the week went on, more and more shirts were hung to create a stronger presence at the Pryzbyla Patio. By Thursday, there were more than a dozen shirts hanging around, displaying messages such as “You are beautiful, you are loved” and “I am a survivor, not a victim.”
Doman emphasized PEERS’ sole desire of showing support and love.
“People should never feel required to open up about something like this, they can keep it to themselves which is totally fine. Even if they are not a victim or do not know a survivor, we encourage everyone to write on a shirt, we assume everyone has something positive to say for survivors,” Doman said.
Junior politics major Jimmy Harrington was among the students on campus who appreciated the peer education group’s efforts during the week.
“I think the Clothesline Project shows that our student body is working to move beyond ignoring the crisis of domestic violence,” Harrington said. “These steps may seem small, but they are the first on the road towards stopping sexual assault.”