APU’s Clothesline Project allows silenced voices to finally tell their story among peers

The Clothesline Project began in the 1990s in Cape Cod, Mass. The project represents a time and place where a woman’s freedom came from stepping outside and hanging clothes on a line and talking to her female friends. APU has taken on this project, along with other universities such as Arizona State and Simmons College. APU has been having this event on campus for more than nine years.

The clothesline represents the pain and struggle many women have gone through, whether it be domestic abuse, rape, etc.,” said Isabella Relph, sophomore kinesiology major and undergraduate intern for the Office of Women’s Development. “There was a point in time in a woman’s life where being outside and hanging laundry was the only time she could step away from what was happening behind closed doors.”

The event took place Oct. 2-6 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and was located in Seven Palms. Each year, the turnout for the project increases among students. More than 50 people last Monday were accounted for at the event. Each day of the event, the attendance increased.

However, the project was available to view 24 hours a day, and students were able to come at any time to reflect on their own experiences or read the stories of other anonymous writers.

This annual event typically has a variety of shirts from APU students hanging from the clothesline. These shirts include shirts from previous years from students who have acknowledged their stories, and also some from this year from students sharing their struggles. Each shirt distinctly has a story written about the abuse that has occurred in his or her life.

Amid hanging these shirts, the Office of Women’s Development staff wants to help those who might be keeping their stories hidden. The women behind this program hope that if an individual is reading one of these shirts, they will hopefully begin to understand that they are not alone during this time in their life.

“The meaning of this event communicates to individuals in this community that you are not alone, and you are not strange for letting something that was out of your control happen to you,” Relph said. “It communicates that we are a God loving community and that we are here for our sisters.”

Uniquely, the motivation behind this event came from the month of October and its significance. Undergraduate intern and senior physical education major Jessica Beeler said, “October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and that ties into the significance behind the event. It is also a nationwide campaign, and to be able to bring it onto our campus and bring awareness is the real reason why we do this event.”

Along with T-shirts, there were socks with words of encouragement.

“We do not restrict how an individual wants to tell their story, and I think that is very important with a subject like this,” Madeline Ho, Staff Program Coordinator of Office of Women’s Development said.

The Office of Women’s Development staff has come together to remind men and women of all races, shapes and sizes that they are not alone: God is always looking out for them.

“It is very beautiful how diverse the stories are and how far along people are on their journey,” Ralph said.

This event was ran by the staff at the Office of Women’s Development, which is located on East campus opposite the Cougar Dome.