Events raise awareness of domestic violence, sexual assaults

DUBOIS, Pa. — For three days last week, Penn State DuBois' Student Union became a center for hope for the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The Clothesline Project and the Shoe Project were organized by the campus Students Allies, Friends and Educators (SAFE) Club and the sexual assault counseling and prevention organization Passages.

The Clothesline Project, an annual event on campus, provides T-shirts and fabric paint to anyone who wishes to decorate a shirt. Each T-shirt color represents a different violent crime against women. White for women who have died from violence; yellow or beige for women who have been battered or assaulted; red, pink or orange for women who have been raped or sexually assaulted; blue or green for women who are survivors of incest or child sexual abuse; purple or lavender for women attacked because of their sexual orientation, and black for women attacked for political reasons. Messages are written on the shirts and they are then placed on a clothesline for display.

The Shoe Project is a collection of shoes illustrating the journeys faced by domestic violence survivors. They are accompanied by written accounts of the abuse that the victims who once wore the shoes endured. The goal of both of these displays is to raise awareness of domestic violence issues, which professionals and advocates hope will ultimately reduce the occurrence of violent acts.

"I think most people don't think about it," said April Fleck, a prevention educator with Passages. "This shows people that it does happen, and that it does happen right here in your town. There's this feeling that it doesn't happen here. It does happen everywhere, and the more we talk about it, the more we can change the social norms that allow it to happen."

Fleck said not only do these cases of domestic and sexual violence happen everywhere, but it also happens with staggering frequency. She said, "Statistics tell us that it's likely everyone knows someone that has been a victim, even if we don't know that person has been a victim. The statistics show that one in four girls and one in six boys will be victims of sexual assault by the age of 18." 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has more information. 

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Last Updated April 15, 2013