~ Clothesline Project brings awareness to UCA students

Clothesline Project brings awareness to UCA students

Published October 10, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.
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Tammy Keith

Emily Busby, 18, of Jacksonville looks at a display Wednesday at the University of Central Arkansas that contains T-shirts representing women, men and children killed by domestic violence. The Clothesline Project was brought to UCA by the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas in Conway. Executive Director Carrie Curtis said the national trend is that people ages 18-24 are the most abused. “Our hope is to make an impact now,” she said.

CONWAY — Freshman Emily Busby was walking across the University of Central Arkansas campus on Wednesday when a clothesline of decorated T-shirts caught her eye; then they touched her heart.

“I just thought this was going to be like an art project people were doing,” she said. “I didn’t know it had such a traumatic and deep meaning to it.”

The T-shirts depict women, men and children killed by domestic violence in Arkansas. Their loved ones or the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence designed the T-shirts in memory of the victims.

“From afar, it looked like people were drawing on T-shirts. It looked cool, but then I started reading the stories about how people were killed by domestic violence,” Busby said. The Jacksonville native is majoring in criminal psychology and minoring in art.

In Arkansas last year, 31 people were killed by domestic violence, said Carrie Curtis, executive director of the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas. Those 31 included 24 women, four men and three children.

Curtis said the Clothesline Project is brought to UCA each year during October, which is National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. She said one in three people are affected by domestic violence. She compared that to breast cancer, which affects one in eight women, according to breastcancer.org.

It’s particularly important to take the message of domestic violence to the college-age students, she said.

“There is a national trend that the most-affected age bracket is 18-24, who are in a domestic-violence relationship,” Curtis said. “Our hope is to have an impact now … engaging with them now to stop [domestic violence].”

Busby wasn’t the only student who had never before seen the Clothesline Project.

UCA sophomore Bryson Frasure of Monticello was attracted to the T-shirts, which were flapping in the breeze in the Student Center courtyard.

“This is the first I’ve seen of it,” he said. “I think it’s really powerful. When they give you an example and put something in your face about it, especially an artistic representation … and then to have the information about the people themselves, I think it’s a very powerful message — and it’s sad. It’s sad that it’s still happening.”

Megan Bailey of Malvern and Autumn Toler of Cabot, both freshmen, hadn’t heard of the Clothesline Project, either.

“After lunch, we were going back to the dorm and saw all this, and I thought, ‘I wonder what this is,” Bailey said. The pair walked down the line of T-shirts, silently reading each one.

The stories included one about an 18-year-old North Little Rock woman who was shot and killed by her boyfriend, because “he told officers she wouldn’t shut up,” according to the information on the shirt.

Another woman, in her 50s, had divorced her husband and had a restraining order against him. He killed her and then killed himself. Another T-shirt was decorated with an angel and a woman’s name, and painted in a rain cloud were the words “Shot in the head by her husband in the driveway.”

Art on the shirts ranged from painted guns to flowers. Words on another white T-shirt declared, “Love shouldn’t hurt; end domestic violence.”

Curtis said the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas in Conway has room for 18-22 women and children, and men are housed separately.

“We had a male last month [for whom] we worked with CAPCA (Community Action Program for Central Arkansas) to offer services,” Curtis said.

She said there were T-shirts on the line from two murders in Conway that she didn’t know about, and both victims were men.

The Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas offers weekly domestic-violence and sexual-assault support groups, which are open to the community. For more information about the support-group meetings, call (501) 329-7405. The crisis hotline number is (866) 358-2265.

The Women’s Shelter had a sign-up sheet on a table for students to volunteer at the shelter. The employees also heard stories of abuse during the few hours the Clothesline Project was on display.

Curtis said one employee, who has been at the shelter for a year, was surprised at the number of stories about domestic violence that she heard Wednesday.

“But if you think about it, it’s one in three,” Curtis said. “Everywhere you look, there’s a survivor.”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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