I’ve helped with Clothesline Project workshops, and am gathering materials to present one in our tribal community. But I’ve never created a Clothesline t-shirt. Today at a training, I did. Twenty-five women sat in a room, creating t-shirts. Sometimes it was so quiet in there you could hear a pin drop, and other times the room rang with laughter. There was much sharing of materials (“Where’s the red marker?” and “Who has the silver glitter?”), and sharing of ideas. There were women who jumped right in and knew what they wanted to create, and a couple who sat staring at the shirts or making sketches on paper for an hour before they began. Some women fretted over an “error” when the paint blobbed or it didn’t look the way they imagined it, and others just shrugged it off and kept going.
It was liberating. Here I was, putting my feelings in bold strokes on a t-shirt, letting the world know how I felt. It was a little like the therapy used for PTSD, where talking about the experience gives you more chance to recover.
If you are a survivor of domestic abuse or sexual violence, I strongly encourage you to take part in a Clothesline Project workshop the next time you are offered the opportunity. I think it helps, if only to be in the company of other women doing the same thing. We are strong, and we are here, and we still have lives. So there!