Clothesline Project to celebrate ACVAP anniversary

The Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP) has been providing non-stop, 24-hour crisis services since January 1998.

That’s more than 94,000 hours accessibility in Archuleta County to date. Happy birthday ACVAP: job well done.

To celebrate, ACVAP is inviting Pagosans to bear witness to personal stories of violence and to celebrate the transformation from victim to survivor through the inauguration of the Pagosa Clothesline Project.

The Clothesline Project is a visual display of shirts, each decorated to represent a particular victim’s experience, by the survivor her/himself, or by someone who cares about them.

The project began in 1990 when a group of women hung a clothesline across the village green in Massachusetts with 31 shirts designed by survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and incest.

Other women viewing the clothesline came forward to create shirts of their own. The project has grown to more than 300 lines nationally and several in other countries, with an estimated 35,000 shirts on display.

The Clothesline Project puts a human face on the statistics of violence as well as celebrating a victim’s strength to survive and to break the silence about abuse.

The purpose of the project is threefold:

1) To bear witness to the survivors as well as victims of the wars against victims and children.

2) To help with the healing process for people who have lost a loved one or are survivors of this violence.

3) To educate, document, and raise society’s awareness of the extent of the problem of domestic and sexual violence.

You need not be an artist to create a moving tribute. All your participation requires is a white T-shirt, and the personal power to tell your story. Making a shirt is part of the healing process for many survivors and a powerfully moving experience. We know it’s a perfect start to our next 10 years.

Free T-shirts can be picked up at the ACVAP offices and decorated with anything from magic marker to elaborate embroidery. If you need a shirt, call 264-9075 and we’ll get one to you.

The Clothesline will be displayed throughout the community, including at the Pagosa Springs Community Center and the Sisson Library this October, to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month 2008.