Sunday, April 20, 2008

Healing trauma, one t-shirt at a time

As you may or may not know, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (hence the Take Back the Night marches happening around the country). This past week was also Crime Victim Rights Week, which the Bronx District Attorney's office launched with the 12th annual Bronx Clothesline Project. The shirts are decorated by survivors of crime as art therapy.

The Clothesline Project originally started in Cape Cod in 1990 to raise awareness about domestic violence. The idea was that traditionally women would talk to each other over their backyard fences as they hung their laundry to dry. Because of the stigma surrounding domestic violence, the shirts were also meant to symbolize the airing out society's dirty laundry.

In the Bronx, it was expanded to include other crime types and genders: white shirts for homicide, yellow shirts for domestic violence, pink and blue for sexual abuse, and purple for hate crimes (although not everyone follows this color-coding).

“That’s what is really important about this week,” said Beth Ann Holzhay, director of Bronx County District Attorney’s Crime Victims Assistance Unit. “It’s the only week that all crime victims come together. People need to understand there are many types of victimization.”

“We wanted to include men because men are victims as well,” she added.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of incident happened,” agreed said Celeni Perez-Allen, of the Fordham-Tremont Mental Health Clinic.. “The common thread is that they are all survivors.”

Here were my favorite ones (click photo to enlarge):

Do you know of any other clothesline projects taking place in NYC?

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