Clothesline project exhibit makes debut at DePaul

Dozens of shirts in every color hung proudly in DePaul University’s Lincoln Park Student Center tonight as the Office of Health Promotion & Wellness (HPW) and the Women’s Center presented the Clothesline Project Exhibit. In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month, student volunteers spent the last three weeks inviting members of the community to decorate a T-shirt if they were survivors of violence or lost loved ones to violence.

“I think seeing that support and the physical representation can be very powerful and empowering,” said Sarah Heidbreder, a sexual and relationship violence prevention specialist at HPW DePaul. “I want survivors to feel like they’re not alone.”

Clothesline Project

Out of respect to people’s privacy and safety, the shirts refrained from using any contributor’s names but instead read phrases including “The U.S. Justice has failed abuse victims” and “Violent actions of others do not define you.” The color of the clothing indicated different types of violence, with pink representing surivors of rape and assault and purple for those attacked for their sexual orientation.

13 percent of all undergraduate and graduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitaion while attending college, according to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

Around 50 students and staff members attended the event and offered their support to survivors by decorating paper T-shirt cut outs and pinning them on the display boards. Greenlight Family Services, a social services organization based out of McKinley Park, and Broadway Youth Center, a LGBTQ+ youth health facility located in Buena Park, hosted information booths in the atrium providing information on local counseling and mental wellness resources.