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Survivors of sexual abuse share their experiences

Clothesline Project calls attention to survivors of sexual violence and rape victims.

Students view shirts created by victims of sexual violence during last year's Clothesline Project on Lower Campus.

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Students view shirts created by victims of sexual violence during last year's Clothesline Project on Lower Campus.

Erica McClaugherty

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Survivors of sexual assault, rape and violence will share their experiences through art on the Friendship Walk beginning today for the Cal State Long Beach’s annual Clothesline Project.

“This is their way of healing through an expressive form,” said Meghan Adams, co-chairwoman of the Feminist Organization Reclaiming Consciousness and Equality on campus.

The purpose of the Clothesline Project is to work with the CSULB student population and the local community to help combat the crimes of sexual assault and abuse.

According to the CSULB website, the Clothesline Project is a visual display that calls attention to sexual violence against both men and women. The project displays shirts designed by survivors of violence and families or friends of violence victims.

The booth will be set up on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. across from the University Bookstore. Desiree Giffard, a senior women studies major and active member of F.O.R.C.E., wants the display to make a visual impact on students.

“We want all of our students here at CSULB to know how prevalent violence against women is,” Giffard said. “It’s like airing out your dirty laundry.”

Adams said that when students come to the booth, they can write whatever message they want; they can even use the initials of their rapist on their shirts, just not the full names.

“In the past students have wrote to their parents, their rapists, even their former self as a child,” Adams said.

This is the second year F.O.R.C.E. has worked with the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency has put on the event.

Ashleigh Klein, the director of outreach at SACA and a certified counselor, will be in front of the booth today to lead a workshop about rape myths.

“People have friends that have been affected and they feel helpless,” Klein said. Klein added this would be a great time for students who are interested in getting involved in the anti-rape movement to talk to the people working at the Clothesline Project along with the SACA counselors.

“The best people to talk to are the ones that are already involved in doing this sort of work,” Klein said.

The Clothesline Project is not just demonstrated at CSULB. According to its website, the project started in 1990, with 500 events organized around the world with an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 T-shirts. Projects are presented in 41 states and five countries.

Klein is doing her part to start local projects. “We just did the project at [Long Beach] Poly High School and the LA Air Force Base last week,” Klein said.

Giffard added that UCLA also does the Clothesline Project, but students seem to be more aware of it at CSULB. Giffard said she wants to change that by getting more students involved.

Klein emphasized the importance of educating the campus about sexual violence. “When students walk by and view the shirts, they will have a better understanding of how prevalent it is,” Klein said.

Adams mentioned how publicity might increase this year due to more online promotion.

“We want to get the word out early so that people can be emotionally prepared before they come,” Adams said.

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