Raising awareness with T-shirts
Walking through Kirby Student Center or the Bus Hub, students may have noticed something different. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC) has placed clotheslines of decorated T-shirts to shed light on the issue of violence against women.
Sara Minder, WRAC intern and coordinator of the 2018 Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Clothesline Project, offered insight on the clotheslines over email.
"The Clothesline Project is an opportunity for some healing for those affected by domestic and sexual violence," Minder said in her email. "Art is a wonderful way for survivors to heal from trauma, which is why this project is so influential."
The T-shirts on display come in six different colors and each symbolizes a different facet of violence.
"Each color of shirt represents something different," Minder explained in her email. "White represents those who have died because of violence. Yellow represents battered or assaulted women. Red is for survivors of rape and sexual assault. Blue represents survivors of incest and sexual abuse. Purple represents those attacked because of their sexual orientation. Black is for people attacked for political reasons."
The T-shirts were made by students and the community members of Duluth at workshops over the years, according to Minder.
"The past two years we've done the workshops at our annual Take Back the Night," Minder said.
The display is meant to open up conversations about issues surrounding violence.
"I hope that people understand the vast impact sexual and domestic violence has on our community, and I hope that the project shows survivors that they are not alone," Minder said.
With these issues becoming more prominent in our media and our everyday lives, students may be wondering where to learn more—and how to become part of the solution.
"The first step is educating yourself about these issues," Minder said. "Statistically, you or someone you know will be affected by sexual or domestic violence in your lifetime, so being educated about the issue is incredibly important."
One way to learn more is by attending WRAC's events, which often revolve around these issues.
"We have lots of great events throughout the year about consent, sexual violence, relationship violence, and many other interesting topics," Minder said in her email. "We also have students who volunteer with us. We have bi-weekly meetings Tuesdays from 3–3:30 p.m. in KSC 268. Students can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our general and/or volunteer email lists."
WRAC doesn't just provide services for women. Minder emphasizes that their services are available to anybody of any gender identity.
"A common misconception of WRAC is that we only serve women because it's in our name," said Minder over email. "But we actually serve ALL genders! We have lots of great programming throughout the year dedicated towards education about health and safety for all students. For example, we host several self-defense trainings throughout the year with UMDPD."
If you are in a dangerous situation, the national hotline for domestic violence is 1-800-799-7233.