Every October the WCA participates in the Clothesline Project– asking local businesses to hang t-shirts decorated by survivors of domestic abuse in their establishments. The t-shirts give survivors a voice and allow this very real issue to be brought to light in the community. This is a story we received from a staff member from one of the many participating businesses this year:
I’m sharing this story with you because not only did it impact my life in a very personal way, but it may have saved a life, as well.
I was contacted last month by a staff member at the WCA (Madeline) to ask about our agency’s interest in participating in The Clothesline Project. Having been involved with the WCA for a number of years and being a devout supporter, I accepted.
The t shirts came, and as our staff was hanging the shirts, a concern of “the dark one” came up. One of my staff members stated that the shirt with what looked like blood stains and the words “stop” and “don’t hurt me” was too graphic and shouldn’t be hung. I announced to the office what the WCA stood for, and why The Clothesline Project was so impactful. I hung “the dark one”, anyway.
I was approached by a care provider last week. She asked if I was the administrator, and if she could close the door She explained to me why she hadn’t been showing up to her scheduled shifts with her clients. Her husband had been hiding her car keys, and keeping her phone from her. She couldn’t call into work, and she was unable to retrieve our multiple messages. She stated she had to continuously buy prepaid phones to call into our office to make excuses why she was not making it to her shifts. Before knowing this information, she was on my radar to be terminated.
She went on to say that she had been in this abusive and controlling relationship for quite some time. She started to cry. She mentioned The Clothesline Project. She said she had never seen it before. She was folding a brochure in her hand, ripping the edges as she spoke to me. She read the posters, she saw the brochures, but what really spoke to her…was “the dark one”.
She said, “It’s easy to see the happiness and liberation from the shirts that portray freedom, peace and the healing process…but the shirt with the blood stains and painful words reminded me that I’m not alone. It showed me that someone had the courage in their darkest hour to make one more phone call, and be able to be in a place to share their story.”
I thanked her for sharing her words with me. What happened next was incredible.
She asked me if she could borrow my phone in my office to call the crisis line. I told her to take all of the time she needed. She was spoken to with respect, and reassurance. She was educated on a safety plan to move forward, and who she could trust in this difficult endeavor. She was asked if she was in a safe place at that moment. Her tears quickly receded, and her face could have lit up the room.
After getting off of the phone with the crisis line, she asked if she could store a duffel bag with her belongings in my office. There, the duffel bag sits, waiting for her return.
She’s been given an advanced paycheck to cover her time that she is unable to work with our clients to focus on her children, and removing herself from her abuser. Our agency is happy to announce that she has been given a personal cell phone, and she has a plan in place. To be free.
On behalf of myself, my staff, and our employee, we all thank the WCA for being present in our office that day. Had it not been for The Clothesline Project, and the “dark” t-shirt that is otherwise difficult to look at, this individual’s struggle would have continued.
I understand it takes so much time and dedication to administer The Clothesline Project. Please know, to everyone involved, you were with us in our office that day. What could very well have saved someone’s life from domestic abuse…was a t-shirt.
I implore you to continue to circulate the “dark ones”. They are hard to look at and absorb, but so is the underlying issue. Had we not hung that particular shirt, she may not have had the bravery to speak to me. This conversation and what transpired because of it has absolutely inspired me to become a WCA Ambassador. I intend on doing whatever it takes to spread the message of healing hope and freedom.
Thank you for being in our office when our employee needed it most. The Clothesline Project spoke to her in a way that only a survivor’s hands could convey.