Pedestrians and drivers in Golden may have noticed an interesting display near the pedestrian crosswalk on Wednesday, June 12.
Clotheslines hung across the park, lined with decorated T-shirts with sayings like “say no to violence,” “there is no reason for all this hurt,” and more.
The annual Clothesline Project display bears witness to survivors and victims of violence against women, and aims to help with the healing process, while educating, documenting, and raising society’s awareness of the extent of the problem. The Golden Women’s Resource Centre and RCMP Victim Services come together to host the event that invites survivors to express themselves, and share with the community in an anonymous way. The annual show of support for women invites people from the community to decorate shirts in the weeks leading up to the day, to be displayed in the park.
“Some of them are difficult to see because it reflects the violence, and trauma of someone’s experience. This is a way for survivors to express themselves, and share with the community in an anonymous way,” stated Golden Women’s Resource Centre outreach and executive director Linley McLean. “The shirts are very diverse. Some of them are lighter, or have an element of humour. Some speak to a world of healing, love, and support. Others clearly express dark, and upsetting experiences. Many of them are very powerful and moving.”
The collection of shirts has grown year over year, and the display gets larger with each passing event.
“With all of these shirts, it’s a powerful display, and an important one,” McLean said. “While many people in our community do not face abuse in their own relationships, it is all too real for the women we serve. It is also something that many women endure in silence, alone. This is an opportunity to put it out there, and show people that it does happen in our community. For many women who have contributed shirts, it’s a reminder that they’re not alone.”
Throughout the day, the community is invited to enjoy a barbecue and view the shirts on display. Often, people in the community will express surprise at the number of shirts on the lines, and comment on the power of the shirts.
The Prevention of Violence Against Women Week (hosted in April) is an initiative that raises awareness for a woman’s right to live free from violence, and encourages growth in programs that assist women fleeing violence, such as Golden’s Safe Home Program, Outreach services, Stopping the Violence Counselling, and Victim Services.
The Clothesline Project is hosted all over the world to remind people of the real meaning of violence statistics. It originated in Hyannis, Massachusetts in 1990 when a member of the Cape Cod’s Women’s Defense Agenda learned that during the same time 58,000 soldiers were killed in the Vietnam War, 51,000 U.S. women were killed by the men who claimed to love them.
“We experience a lot of support at this event,” McLean said.