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The Clothesline Project gives voice to abuse victims

By Mark Garbino, Contributing Writer

UNH students were given a chance to make their voices heard as the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) hosted the annual Clothesline Project on Thursday, March 12. The Clothesline Project is a national awareness initiative regarding abuse against women. Participants are able to design t-shirts by writing their story and/or inspirational messages on them. 

The Clothesline Project has an interesting backstory, according to Christine Nardini, staff advocate for SHARPP.

“The Clothesline Project started in Hyannis, Massachusetts, to symbolize how when women went out to hang their laundry, they would talk to their neighbors about their darkest secrets and their house and family,” said Nardini. “And from that, the Clothesline Project was created.”

“Any friends, survivors, allies, anyone who has a connection to these issues of domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking, can come and kind of express their support or their story in any way they like,” Nardini said.

The t-shirts are displayed on the statehouse lawn in Concord every April. Their powerful message can have a strong impact on those who are experiencing or have experienced abuse.

“It can be a great reminder to survivors that they’re not alone,” said Nardini. “It says, ‘I am taking a stand. This is my voice, this is my story, and I am putting it out for the world to see.’”

SHARPP’s outreach assistant and UNH senior Hannah Dooling encourages others to take part in this event.

“It can be a tough subject and kind of hard if you don’t know a lot about it, but we try to make this a safe space and a comfortable space for everyone, regardless of their connections to the issue,” Dooling said. “It’s also a great learning experience and a good way to talk to people and meet more people that are doing work regarding these issues.”

Brenda Kunz, who is part of the AmeriCorps Victims Assistance Program, is very passionate about the Clothesline Project and appreciates the message it sends.

“I am here because I want to help survivors and people who are passionate about the cause,” Kunz said. “This is an issue that isn’t very talked about in our society right now. I think that events like this that are becoming a bit more prevalent, are a great thing. It’s helping kind of ease the taboo aspect of talking about these issues, and is spreading awareness.”

Kunz believes that attending an event like the Clothesline Project will leave a lasting impression in your mind.

“There is no harm in just coming to an event and seeing for yourself what you see at an event like this,” Kunz said. “Perhaps even if you don’t want to come to another event, at least you went to one, and you would have seen for yourself the words on the shirts, and you would have seen the people writing on the shirts, and the words that they’re using. That will stick with you.”

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