By Morgan VanWickler – Art Director
In October 1981, the first “Day of Unity” was held by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which was later converted into Domestic Violence Awareness month in 1987. The month is dedicated to supporting survivors with getting the help and healing they need.
Over a decade ago, Chair of the Justice Studies Department Linda Bucci brought the Clothesline Project into the community for a week in November. Today it is run by Assistant Professor of Legal Studies Karin Raye alongside her domestic violence class and the men’s lacrosse and basketball teams. There are over 200 shirts from over the past 10 years in the exhibit, many coming from Reach Beyond Domestic Violence, an organization out of Waltham that works with Professor Raye and her students to create the exhibit.
For the past two years, all of the shirts displayed in October were from Lasell faculty, staff, and students. “When you see something as impactful as this, it becomes really emotional,” said sophomore Michael Foley. Each shirt is a survivor’s story of domestic abuse with the contributors choosing to either remain anonymous or sign their names. Foley says the shirts are proof to others who are struggling that survivors have the ability to be productive and that they won’t be stuck in the violence forever.
Incoming freshmen are required to take an online program known as Haven, a resource the school uses to gauge the current knowledge of domestic abuse in their new students. Junior Mariah Smalls stressed the importance of bringing awareness of domestic violence to the Lasell community. “Twenty five percent of freshmen come in already knowing abuse,” said Smalls.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and only five percent of survivors report their abuse.
A major roadblock in healing domestic violence is victim blaming. For this reason, the Clothesline Project acts as a way for people to share their abuse in a safe environment. “It’s a way to share the story without it getting twisted,” said Smalls. The Clothesline Project also impacts passersby as a visual impact. “I think it forces people to not deny it,” said Raye.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month works towards bringing to light that there can be actions taken to prevent domestic abuse. “You can pay attention to what’s going on around you, you can support people when you think they’re in need,” said Raye.
More often than not, students look to their peers for help and not the professionals in the Counseling Center. “I want survivors to heal, because I see the really insidious impacts of sexual and domestic violence,” said Raye.