The Clothesline Project Brings Awareness to Sexual Violence


Courtesy of WP Student Development

Danielle Dix, Staff Writer

William Paterson’s Women’s Center displayed the Clothesline Project, a project that aimed to raise awareness of sexual assault and violence, in the Student Center from Apr. 8 to Apr. 18. For the last 8 years, The Women’s Center provided shirts to students to decorate in order to share their experiences with sexism and assault.

Theresa A. Bivaletz, Campus Victim Services Coordinator, said “survivors of trauma often benefit from connecting with others who have had similar experiences. Sharing with others can be a huge step forward in the healing process.”

Students hung their shirts near the stairs of the student center. Many shirts commented on the unfairness of judgment based on the clothes they wear, which highlights how some people have blamed victims for what they wear during instances of assault. Bivaletz said she wanted to bring awareness to sexual assault “because the effects of sexual assault can last a lifetime.”

The Clothesline Project originated in Hyannis, Massachusetts in 1990, organized by the Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda. They decorated and displayed 31 shirts in honor of those that have experienced sexual assault and violence. According to the Clothesline Project website, the project “provides evidence that incest, domestic violence, and sexual violence exists. It gives a voice to those who have been forcibly silenced.”

The project has been featured in places all over the country. Utah Valley University, who now controls the project, has displaced shirts every year since 1998.

“Sexual assault is 100% preventable.” Bivaletz said. “We all need to be a part of the change.”

Bivaletz encouraged everyone to educate themselves on the issue of sexual violence in society today. “Take part in trainings and workshops to help you learn and then educate others.” Bivaletz said, “Speak up when you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right to you. Be an active bystander.”