Clothesline Project: Giving a Voice to Victims of Sexual Assault

The clothesline project is set up at NDSU where students are sharing their sexual assault stories through t-sirts

FARGO, N.D. — It’s a touchy subject that some people don’t wish to share with the public.

“You thought it was okay to take advantage of me. It was not,” read NDSU student Mackenzie Eckman. “You acted like nothing happened but I have to live with this forever.”

Eckman is just one of the many students within the NDSU community who is a victim of sexual assault.

Other victims, survivors and allies are sharing their stories in some form of decorated t-shirts that are spread all over the Memorial Union Gallery at NDSU for the Clothesline Project.

“Honestly, they always bring me to tears just because there are so many perspectives,” said Eckman.

“It really just speaks to the number of people in our community who have been impacted in some way,” said Kelsey Keimig, who is the assistant director of the Sexual Assault & Advocacy Group of NDSU.

“Afterword he said you shouldn’t let people take advantage of you” and “where were the people who say they care” are just a couple of the powerful messages that have been written on the shirts.

Eckman said writing out your raw emotions can be the first step in the healing process.

“I started talking about it maybe a year and a half ago,” she confessed. “I wrote a blog and I spoke at a lot of events on campus. I think it’s easier to tell your story every time.”

These are clothes worn by actual victims, showing that it doesn’t matter what you’re wearing.

Anybody can be raped.

“There’s this really pervasive rape myth that victims may have been asking for their assault because of the clothing that they were wearing,” said Keimig.

The line of clothing represents the phrase, “my clothing is not my consent”.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re wearing,” said Keimig.

Students want to remind the community through the Clothesline Project there is always someone to speak to and if you go through sexual assault, you’re never alone.

“I wish I would’ve sought out help,” said Eckman. “I wish I would’ve known my resources and stuff.”

“I love coming to NDSU everyday knowing that we’re making a difference,” said Keimig.

Strength, courage and bravery are just a few characteristics you can find within victims of sexual assault.

“I’m stronger than ever,” said Eckman. “I feel like I can do anything almost.”

The Clothesline Project is a global event with approximately 500 projects located around the world.

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