Project raises domestic violence awareness

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Samantha Zimmerman

The Florida Southern community came together to raise awareness for relationship and gender violence through the Clothesline Project and a conference held on campus March 7.

Students had the opportunity to participate in the Clothesline Project and decorate a shirt to raise awareness or express their own personal feelings regarding relationship violence.

The event drew a variety of students who decorated shirts.

A few of the statements included “99 percent of perpetrators of sexual violence will walk free – let’s change that” and “My dress does not mean yes.”

“Survivors of sexual assault and violence are often silenced, and designing a shirt gives each person a voice to expose an experience that may have dramatically changed their life,” FSC Women’s Advocacy Club President Alie Brewer said. “The event can be part of a healing process.”

FSC students Alie Brewer and Kara Delaney serve as co-presidents of Women’s Advocacy Club.

The club hosts events like the Clothesline Project as well as documentary nights and discussions to draw awareness to sexual assault and gender-based violence and
discrimination.

The FSC criminology and psychology departments also hosted a Gender and Violence Conference. The conference featured two guest speakers, Dr. Shelley Clevenger and Vincent Paolilo.

Clevenger is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University.

Paolilo works at the Women’s Resource Center that serves the communities of Winter Haven and Lakeland.

Representatives from campus organizations including Just Ask, Allies, Women’s Advocacy Club and the counseling center at FSC also spoke at the conference.

“My favorite part was the keynote speaker, Dr. Clevenger,” Brewer said. “She shed light on how sexual assault affects not only the survivors but their mothers, sisters and female friends.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million men and women each year.

The guest speakers and students from a number of organizations provided information to educate and raise awareness on intimate partner violence, gender violence and stalking.

Students in the criminology department also presented poster projects related to a variety of domestic violence topics.

“It was an eye-opening experience,” Brewer said. “It was impactful seeing all the incredible research done by our psychology and criminology students.”

According to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 105,668 domestic violence crimes were reported to law enforcement in 2016.

“We must encourage students to continue to host and attend events that serve as testimonies to the issue of intimate violence and sexual assault,” Brewer said.

Members of the FSC community hope to continue to raise awareness through events like the Clothesline Project and Gender Conference.

They also hope to ensure that all students are informed about proper consent and their Title IX rights.

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