USC Clothesline Project Offers Education and Support

3:59 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the University of South Carolina is working to make sure the university community knows where to get help for this issue and others.

Students took time out of their day to help spread a message of knowledge and encouragement as part of the effort. It is called the Clothesline Project, a national initiative to raise awareness about some very serious issues, like sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence with decorated shirts and displays in the community.

"I put that I'm a survivor and basically that everyone needs to know because it can happen to anyone," said USC senior Allaina Johnson.

She says she has experienced and witnessed the results sexual assault. That is why she paused to decorate a shirt meant to tell her story as well as offering support for others.

"People don't really know and it's good for people to have an awareness about it because if you don't have an awareness there's no help for it there's nothing to make it better," said Johnson.

Each color shirt represents something different. Yellow represents relationship violence, pink stands for sexual assault, purple symbolizing hate crimes, white in honor of survivors and victims, blue representing child abuse and red for male supporters.

Michelle Eichelberger, an Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator with the USC's Student Health Services, says campus organizations and residence halls have participated as well.
She says project let educates the university community and reminds them they have somewhere to turn if they need help.

"There's a resource here on campus that cares about what's happening and they'll know where they can come, so we try to do events and stuff like this so that people can see the good side of what we do so that it's not as bad if you end up having to use us on the victim's advocacy side," said Eichelberger.

She says statistics show that domestic violence and sexual assaults have begun to occur at younger ages, making it even more important to raise awareness on campus and in the community.

"It's not just when you get into your adult life and all of a sudden this is a problem, we're seeing it in high schools, we're even seeing it as young as in middle schools. And with sexual assaults, child sexual abuse is a major issue as well so it's never too soon to start talking about it and letting people know what's going on," said Eichelberger.

That is part of what motivated Johnson to stop and lend her time and creativity to an important cause.

"It speaks volumes that people are out here devoting their time to do it because of course we're all racing to class but if you can't take the time out of your day to give somebody the support that they need and that comfort, it's gonna be an ever revolving cycle and we need to break it," said Johnson.

Eichelberger says they plan to display the shirts Monday in front of the Russell House.

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