“How could anyone ever tell you, YOU were anything less than beautiful? How could anyone ever tell you, YOU were less than whole? How could anyone fail to notice that your loving is a miracle? How deeply you’re connected to my soul?”
“Long term Domestic Violence is like being kidnapped and tortured for ransom but you never have enough to pay off the kidnapper.”
These powerful words are just a snapshot of the messages written on over 50,000 tee shirts since the Clothesline Project was started in 1990. The Connecticut Coalition against Domestic Violence donated a tee shirt display for a Clothesline Project awareness event last Thursday, hosted in our Community Room by the Soroptimist Club of CT River Valley; I had the honor of attending this event, listening to survivors of domestic violence tell their story and learning about the Soroptimist International organization.
The Clothesline project started on Cape Cod, MA, in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. It is a therapeutic vehicle for battered women affected to express their emotions by decorating a t-shirt; this display seeks to raise community awareness of how many of our neighbors are affected by domestic violence. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in every four women in the United States will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
On an annual basis, The Community Health Center, Inc.‘s (CHC) domestic violence organization, New Horizons, provides services and shelter to over 1,000 women and children. The shelter itself is one element of a comprehensive approach to intimate partner violence (IPV) that also includes community education, support groups, individual counseling, and consultation to CHC’s clinical provider teams.
The event consisted of an intimate group of Soroptimist members, community members, and a few CHC staff members. Two brave women shared their individual experiences with domestic violence. Personally, it was very emotional listening to the detail of their battles against violence, drug & alcohol abuse, verbal abuse and in some cases, child abuse. These women not only stood in front of a group of strangers and spoke confidently; they relived their emotion and pain while proving that they survived and will continue to be a voice for those who still battle against domestic violence.
The members from Soroptimist International showed compassion and appreciation for all those who attended and shared their stories. Soroptimist is an international volunteer service organization for professional and community-minded woman who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Founded in 1921, the organization comprises approximately 95,000 members in more than 120 countries. The CT River Valley chapter president is Gerry Bennett. She spoke briefly about their efforts and summed up the organization simply for me, “woman helping woman.” Spending 2 hours at a domestic violence awareness event does not change the world, but by gaining knowledge and feeling the emotion of those who have lived through it, lost friends and family from it, and know many who still live day to day suffering from Domestic Violence is a start. October is the national awareness month for Domestic Violence but it should not be limited. If one in four women suffer on a yearly basis from some aspect of domestic violence, then chances are someone close to you may need support. For more information, please call the number below for a variety of services. CT Coalition against Domestic Violence 24 hour hotline at 1-888-774-2900.