MARYVILLE, Mo. — An array of colored T-shirts hanging on clotheslines around the Memorial Bell Tower is one of the ways Northwest Missouri State University is recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
At the beginning of every October, Northwest students and faculty participate in this display — named the Clothesline Project.
“The reality is a majority of violence and assault victims won’t come forward, and on college campuses that’s even higher,” said Benjamin Moran, Northwest Green Dot coordinator, in a news release. “The hope is that if you’re a survivor or an ally that the Clothesline Project can get someone who may be experiencing or may have experienced assault or violence to speak up.”
As Green Dot coordinator, Moran seeks to reduce instances of sexual assault and domestic violence on campus by connecting students with resources. Green Dot aims to teach students how to be active bystanders and redefine cultural norms. The Clothesline Project is one of the ways Green Dot practices its mission.
The project originated in 1990 in Hyannis, Massachusetts, as a way to speak up about and reveal violence against women.
Each piece of clothing tells a story and is made by an ally or a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault.
Brown and gray signify a survivor of emotional, spiritual or verbal abuse; white recognizes someone who died because of violence; black represents someone who is disabled as the result of an attack or someone who was assaulted because of a disability; blue and green recognize a survivor of incest or childhood sexual abuse; red, pink and orange acknowledge a survivor of rape or childhood sexual abuse; yellow recognizes a survivor of physical assault or domestic violence; purple symbolizes someone who was attacked because of sexual orientation.
Northwest’s T-shirt display also features sheets with QR codes to information about the Clothesline Project and domestic violence resources.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States. However, Moran stated a majority of instances such as these go unreported. The Clothesline Project aims to combat this by increasing awareness and reminding victims that they are not alone.
The display will end Friday, Oct. 15, but Northwest will continue to raise awareness by hosting events throughout the rest of the month.
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, Green Dot will provide bystander training to teach individuals about violence warning signs, statistics and resources.
From Monday, Oct. 18 through Friday, Oct. 22, the Northwest chapter of It’s On Us, a nationwide program that seeks to prevent college sexual assault and support survivors, will sponsor various activities that display statistics, resources and the history of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. These activities include yard sign campaigns and sidewalk chalking.
The Student Activities Council hosted Beverly Gooden, an activist and advocate for survivors of relationship violence, earlier in the month. Gooden lectured at the Charles Johnson Theater to combat misconceptions of domestic violence.
According to Moran, other resources available to Northwest students include counseling and clinical services. Rose Viau, serves as a victim advocate for students who experience sexual violence on campus.
Moran also listed off-campus resources, including the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN); Mosaic Medical Center - Maryville; the National Domestic Violence Hotline; and North Star Advocacy Center.
North Star is a nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential services to men, women and children in Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway and Worth counties.
In 2020, North Star served 275 total clients. These services include crisis intervention, case management, support groups, shelter, hospital/medical advocacy, therapy/client counseling and more.
The pandemic caused domestic violence resources in 2020 to be more limited than they were in previous years, according to the center. Throughout the Northwest Missouri Region, 3,927 individuals received services while 1,267 requests went unmet.
The center accepts volunteers and home items, such as new and gently used beds, garbage cans, brooms and more.
Those interested in volunteering at North Star may email firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are trained to provide direct and indirect services, including covering the office, carrying the crisis hotline, staying at the center when clients are in shelter and a variety of other tasks.
“Domestic violence is happening, but if we’re not talking about it, it’s able to just hide under the rug and continue to happen,” Moran said. “When we bring out a problem and talk about violence (and) assault, we can start to change that culture and campus norm.”