A variety of t-shirts designed by victims to raise awareness. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
One shirt gives statistics about the magnitude of the issue. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
A view of the clothesline wrapped around the square. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The t-shirt on the right discusses the impact on men. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The artwork took on different styles, including this one painted with a message about abuse towards children. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Information in the gazebo from DASI, Ginnie's House, and the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
"Everyone is put here for a reason, and it's not to be abused," was one of the messages. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
"Ignorance is not bliss", was one of the powerful messages along the clothesline. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
"No one deserves to be hit!" Another powerful message along the line. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
Shirts across the square reflect the demographics affected by abuse. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
The shirt in the middle reflects hope and new beginnings. Credits: Jennifer Jean Miller
T-Shirts Strung Across Newton's Square In Honor Of Victims
Monday, April 23, 2012 • 5:06pm
NEWTON, NJ – T-shirts were pinned with care recently along a clothesline across Newton’s square, and they waved in the breeze with powerful messages in honor of victims of sexual assault and child abuse.
“Ignorance is not bliss,” read one shirt.
Multicolored handprints and the message, “No one deserves to be hit!” was yet another.
“Everyone is put here for a reason and it’s not to be abused,” was painted onto another shirt.
“Children should be seen…and not hurt!” was another statement made using a t-shirt as an expressive art form.
“The idea is doing laundry has always been women’s work,” said Gwen Federico, the Director of the Sexual Assault Program at DASI (Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Intervention Services). “In the past, info was passed over the clothesline. It’s symbolically airing society’s dirty laundry.”
April is annually recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is a time for communities and organizations to raise awareness about the cause, and prevent it.
Additionally, National Child Abuse Prevention Month takes place in April, as another way to reach out to communities to stop the violence against children.
In Sussex County, DASI teamed up with the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, and Ginnie’s House, the advocacy center for the children of Sussex County, with clients from both Ginnie’s House and DASI creating the shirts, and providing information with the prosecutor’s office.
Federico said the Clothesline Project started in the 1990 in Cape Cod, MA, and came to Sussex County 13 years ago.
“At Sussex County Community College the psychology and sociology classes were given this as an assignment,” said Federico. “They were asked what the impact on society is, and who is affected by it. Many of the students were survivors or knew someone who was.”
The shirts make their rounds on the campus, and the square, for everyone to see.
Although the initial project started out with shirts made by women, men who were victims of abuse have also created some of the shirts on display.
“Some clients were sexually assaulted as children, and as adults seek services,” said Federico. “A 50 year-old woman may say that it happened to her at eight years old, and she is now ready to talk about it.”
Federico hopes the project will raise a greater awareness around the area.
“I don’t think our community realizes that it’s your neighbors this could be happening to,” she added.
DASI offers services to help those affected by domestic abuse, and sexual violence, including supports for teenagers.
“For our teens it’s so difficult, because they may say, ‘he says he loves me,’” Federico explained.
Some of the services DASI offers includes: emergency shelter, 24-hour hotline, crisis intervention, support groups, individual supportive counseling, parenting seminars, legal advocacy, access to a food pantry, clothing, transportation, information and referrals, and transitional housing.
Ginnie’s House was opened in 1998 to assist children of the county who may have been exposed to domestic violence, endured sexual or physical abuse or assault, or been a witness to a violent crime.
With both agencies, abusers do not have access to their centers, and are not able to receive assistance from either group.
Click here to access DASI’s website.
Click here for Ginnie’s House website.