Clothesline Project shares sexual assault victims’ pain


By Jason Hawk - jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com



More than 100 T-shirts are strung up by clothespins in the Amherst Steele High School lobby, each telling the story of a sexual abuse survivor.

More than 100 T-shirts are strung up by clothespins in the Amherst Steele High School lobby, each telling the story of a sexual abuse survivor.


Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Here are some of the words written on T-shirts by local sexual assault victims:

• “In the sixth grade, a classmate took her own life. I found out later she was pregnant by her father.”

• “I’m shattered. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could never put me back together again.”

• “The boy who wore this shirt (my boyfriend) sexually assaulted me. It started while I was sleeping. There was no time to consent. He took away my power and confidence and disconnected my mind and body. I question myself in ways I didn’t think were possible. I didn’t believe myself.”

• “Rape… is about power. It changed my world view. Incest… is about power. It changed the way I think about my family. Assault… is about power. It changed the way I conceive of myself. I am only whole when I recognize my missing pieces. Each time I have been molested, harassed, assaulted, and raped, some piece of me has been taken. Only in feeling those empty spaces can I feel what power has been abused, fell my whole self and find a power of my own.”

• “Be all you can be. Women’s Army Corps 1st Cavalry Division. My body was a battlefield. Raped by coworker while serving proudly.”

• “When I was 14-15, I was in a sexually abusive relationship with a 19-year-old. He used my age, gender, and sexual orientation as tools to manipulate me and make me feel small. He pressured/guilted me into sex acts.”

• “What a mess you’ve made of me.”

• “Domestic violence is a crime. Women united = power.”

• “How could you hurt me and ignore me and blame me? I was just a precious little girl. I was innocent… You took that away from me.”

• “Facts: You broke into my house. You raped me. I was recovering from surgery. It took me a year to recover physically. It took me 38 years to heal mentally. Finally I’m free. Finally I’m a survivor!!!”

“I hate you!!! You and your sons will rot in hell for abusing my body. My life. You knew what you were doing. I was a scared little girl. I wish I could have killed you!”

More than 100 T-shirts bearing hard-to-read testimonials by Lorain County sexual assault survivors hung April 23-27 in the Amherst Steele High School lobby.

Part of the Nord Center’s Traveling Clothesline Project, they were created as a way for those victims to share their stories — histories of violence and the scars left behind.

The raw truth of the words is enough to make you sob in frustration. They tell how hopeless and powerless the victims were made to feel by their abusers.

The rainbow display of shirts is color-coded: Red is for sexual abuse, yellow is for physical abuse, green is for childhood sexual abuse, purple for hate crimes, blue for incest, and gray for abuse against the mentally impaired.

Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, which runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.

Each year, the number of victims is around 321,500 age 12 and older, RAINN reports. The majority are under age 30, with 15 percent in the 12 to 17 age range.

One in six American women has been victimized by an attempted or completed rape, the group says. Among children, 82 percent of victims are girls; among adults, 90 percent of victims are women.

Women ages 18 to 24 who are college students are three times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence.

Men in the same age range who are college students are five times more likely than non-students to be victimized. About three percent of American men — that’s one in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

The danger skyrockets among transgender college students. Twenty-one percent of transgender or non-binary students have been sexually assaulted.

Those who have lived through the hell of abuse must then also cope with increased rates of depression and suicidal thoughts. Ninety-four percent of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the two weeks afterward, and 33 percent of women who are raped think about taking their own lives.

Thirteen percent do try to kill themselves.

Survivors are six times more likely to use cocaine and 10 times more likely to use other major drugs, according to RAINN.

The Clothesline Project was on display through April at Lorain County Community College, Oberlin College, the Nord Center, and Steele.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

More than 100 T-shirts are strung up by clothespins in the Amherst Steele High School lobby, each telling the story of a sexual abuse survivor.
http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2018/04/web1_DSC_1300.jpgMore than 100 T-shirts are strung up by clothespins in the Amherst Steele High School lobby, each telling the story of a sexual abuse survivor.

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2018/04/web1_DSC_1293.jpg

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

http://www.theamherstnewstimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/43/2018/04/web1_DSC_1280.jpg

Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times

By Jason Hawk

jhawk@aimmediamidwest.com

IN THEIR OWN WORDS

Here are some of the words written on T-shirts by local sexual assault victims:

• “In the sixth grade, a classmate took her own life. I found out later she was pregnant by her father.”

• “I’m shattered. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could never put me back together again.”

• “The boy who wore this shirt (my boyfriend) sexually assaulted me. It started while I was sleeping. There was no time to consent. He took away my power and confidence and disconnected my mind and body. I question myself in ways I didn’t think were possible. I didn’t believe myself.”

• “Rape… is about power. It changed my world view. Incest… is about power. It changed the way I think about my family. Assault… is about power. It changed the way I conceive of myself. I am only whole when I recognize my missing pieces. Each time I have been molested, harassed, assaulted, and raped, some piece of me has been taken. Only in feeling those empty spaces can I feel what power has been abused, fell my whole self and find a power of my own.”

• “Be all you can be. Women’s Army Corps 1st Cavalry Division. My body was a battlefield. Raped by coworker while serving proudly.”

• “When I was 14-15, I was in a sexually abusive relationship with a 19-year-old. He used my age, gender, and sexual orientation as tools to manipulate me and make me feel small. He pressured/guilted me into sex acts.”

• “What a mess you’ve made of me.”

• “Domestic violence is a crime. Women united = power.”

• “How could you hurt me and ignore me and blame me? I was just a precious little girl. I was innocent… You took that away from me.”

• “Facts: You broke into my house. You raped me. I was recovering from surgery. It took me a year to recover physically. It took me 38 years to heal mentally. Finally I’m free. Finally I’m a survivor!!!”

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