The Clothesline Project breaks the silence

The sound of a gong, then silence, a whistle blows, and more silence, a loud ringing of a bell, more silence. Each of these sounds is an auditory reminder of the violence that occurs daily in our community.

The gong, played every 10 to 12 seconds, indicated that a woman in the United States had just been assaulted. The whistle, which blew every two minutes, told listeners that a sexual assault had been reported somewhere in our country, and the loud ringing of a bell indicated that a woman had just been killed by her intimate partner.

Colorful shirts hung from clotheslines — some told a story, some had pictures, and a few shirts were ripped to shreds. One told a story with graphic details about abuse that went on for fourteen years.

These shirts and the accompanying sounds are part of the Clothesline Project, which is a violence awareness and prevention program organized to raise awareness about the gravity of abuse in our community. The event took place on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Grande Ballroom.

Students and community members were invited to decorate the provided T-shirts, which were later displayed, to tell of their personal experience with violence.

“These shirts are a way to break the silence,” said Jennie Briggs, Director of the Equity in Education Center. “Our goal is to not only empower victims, but to spur those who view the project into action.”

Briggs said that typically 30-40 shirts are made each semester, but the numbers have gone up each time.

“Last semester we had 115 new shirts made, and we’ve already had a good amount of shirts made today,” she said. “It just goes to show how much this project is needed and what a terrible epidemic violence is.”

Briggs also commented that UVU students make the majority of the shirts.

For privacy reasons, students and community members who chose to participate were given a secluded area to create their shirts.

The shirtsí contents are not censored, allowing survivors to tell their stories in their own way.

“I made a shirt,” said Katie, a teenager from the area who visited the display with a group for a therapeutic assignment. “What stands out to me most is that people don’t realize how common abuse is, especially in Utah County.”

According to a Clothesline Project pamphlet, each of the twelve shirt colors represents a form of abuse ranging from rape and incest to emotional or physical abuse.

The Clothesline Project is a national event that has occurred at UVU twice a year since 1998. There are projects in at least 41 states and five countries, and more are being created each year.

The event was sponsored by the Equity in Education Center, Turning Point Women’s Resource Center and the School of Continuing Education.

Each semester the event sponsors look for volunteers to help keep the Clothesline Project running at UVU.

If you are interested in volunteering for fall semester’s Clothesline Project or would like more information about the Project itself, you can contact the Equity in Education Center at 863-8498 or visit

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