Clothesline Project Visits Poughkeepsie City Hall

POUGHKEEPSIE – With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Grace Smith House has been taking their “Clothesline Project” around Dutchess County to raise awareness for victims. The project, started in Hyannis, MA in 1990 when a member of the Women’s Defense Agenda sought to raise awareness of domestic violence statistics. It has become a worldwide project.

Megan Bajana, Community Educator for Grace Smith House, a Poughkeepsie-based domestic violence shelter, joined with a few of her colleagues, as well as the agency’s president of the board, Lori Rolison, to bring the display to the grounds of city hall on Tuesday.

Rolison, joined by her husband, Mayor Rob Rolison, stressed the need to raise awareness about the alarming spike in domestic violence incidents that can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. “With many people sheltered together in close quarters for long periods in conjunction with the financial stresses of the pandemic, the number of domestic violence incidents is on the rise,” said the board president. Mrs. Rolison also noted that because of the pandemic, the annual GSH Pumpkin Parade will not be held, but the message that “Home shouldn’t be a scary place,” still rings true. “Love shouldn’t hurt and the t-shirts on display here show the disheartening truth that people have been hurt by domestic violence.”

Bajana explained that each t-shirt was created by a victim of domestic or sexual violence, many of which bear graphic messages. They were created by the victims as part of their efforts to seek closure. “Each shirt tells someone’s story,” said Bajana.

The t-shirts have identifying ribbons or markings on them to indicate the type of incident that the shirt represents.

* White ribbons represent the death of a victim of domestic violence.

* Yellow/beige ribbons represent battered or assaulted victims.

* Red/pink/orange ribbons indicate rape or sexual assault.

* Blue/green ribbons signal survivors of incest or child sexual abuse.

* Purple ribbons indicate that the victim was attacked because of their sexual orientation.

According to Bajana, a woman is battered every 10-12 seconds in the United States, one woman is raped every minute of every day, and 3-4 women die every day as a result of domestic violence.

The display will be at several additional locations between October 8 and October 31.