“Saying you’re sorry afterwards won’t cover my bruises.”
Those were the words on a T-shirt, written by an abuse survivor, featured as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. T-shirts conveying messages of despair, anger and sorrow, all written by survivors of domestic abuse, are placed on clotheslines for members of the public to see.
On Wednesday this week, from noon, the Department of Counselling Services’ Family Resource Centre is inviting other survivors to decorate more T-shirts as part of the “Clothesline Project.” The centre will also hold a resource session at its offices on North Sound Way the same day, at 6-7:30 p.m.
The 16 Days of Activism, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10, and is used by individuals and groups internationally to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women.
This year’s theme, “Together We Can End Gender-Based Violence in Education,” focuses on building awareness and allowing survivors to bear silent witness.
“The Clothesline Project offers the opportunity to publicly air the issue of violence in our homes and communities. The project brings together survivors of all forms of violence or supporters of victims/survivors to design T-shirts as a testament to their experience. Recognizing that males may also be victims of violence (as witnesses or victims as children and as adults), their participation is also welcomed,” a press release from the Family Resource Centre stated.
The Clothesline Project will also be undertaken at Her Majesty’s Prison Service facilities and the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre’s Taya Lounge.
At the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the clotheslines were displayed at the Health Services Authority’s Women’s Health Centre and at the George Town Post Office. Now they will be exhibited at other district health centres across Grand Cayman until the end of the observance.
“We consistently see a spike in domestic violence incidents in December,” said Health Minister Dwayne Seymour. “This initiative is seen as a strong and powerful way to help survivors confront their experiences and to raise awareness of such crimes in the community.”
“The concept works on many levels,” said Charmaine Miller, the Family Resource Centre’s acting programs coordinator. “Survivors of gender-based violence can decorate the T-shirt with words and images that relate to their personal experience of such crimes. They can also use it to come to terms with pent up feelings concerning the crime.
“At the same time, observers learn more about the ramifications of gender-based violence by looking at the T-shirts. In this manner, all concerned can move forward and be better informed about the psychological toll of such crimes.”
The resource session on Wednesday evening will be for the public to learn more about the resources available to domestic violence survivors. It will be held in partnership with local family welfare agencies including the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.