October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in recognition of this national observance the Bay Minette Public Library has the Lighthouse Shelter’s Clothesline Project on display this week. In case you miss it this time, we plan to host the …
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and in recognition of this national observance the Bay Minette Public Library has the Lighthouse Shelter’s Clothesline Project on display this week. In case you miss it this time, we plan to host the display again at the end of the month.
The T-shirts on display are the artistic representations of women’s struggles with domestic violence and sexual assault. The shirts were created by survivors of that violence or their loved ones. The idea for producing them and the beginning of what would come to be known as the Clothesline Project began in Hyannis, Mass., in 1990 when 31 shirts were displayed to raise awareness about domestic violence. Since then, the project and its impact on public awareness of the problem has spread throughout the United States and into other countries around the world.
According to Lighthouse Shelter’s Associate Director Rhyon Ervin, the shirt designs on display in our library were created by women in the Lighthouse support groups to illustrate their unfortunately common experience and struggles. The weekly support groups are conducted by Olympia Clopton, the Direct Services Manager who heads up the domestic violence intervention and counseling for the shelter. Becky Ganey, child advocate, leads the weekly support group for children.
The Lighthouse Shelter of Baldwin County, known as a “Beacon of Hope” to those suffering from domestic violence, is celebrating its 19th anniversary this year. Ervin said that she is saddened to hear women who still say, “I didn’t know you were here.”
Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behaviors used to establish and maintain control over an intimate partner.” The abuse can be verbal, physical and/or sexual in nature, but is always psychologically damaging and manipulative. It frequently includes humiliation, violence, threats and intimidation. The abuser exerts these behaviors to gain control of their victim, often isolating the victim from friends and family. Another facet of crimes against women is sexual assault, with millions of victims each year in this country alone. In 65 percent of sexual assault cases the assailant is known by the victim and is a friend or family member.
There are a number of ways to help fight the good fight against domestic violence and sexual assault. One way you can help is by volunteering your time. The Lighthouse accepts volunteers to serve as court advocates, who help domestic violence victims in “navigating the court system and planning for safety”. Or maybe you could help with victim outreach and distribute fliers, brochures and the like throughout the service area. For those who want to help but aren’t able to contribute time, the Christmas sharing program that buys gifts for children or women victims over the holidays is a wonderful way to lift spirits in a time of sorrow and need.
There are many shelter needs year round and anything you can do will be greatly appreciated. Immediate shelter needs include women’s underwear in all sizes, women’s socks, toothpaste, deodorant and toilet paper. Additionally, gas cards, phone cards, pillows, women’s pajamas and house shoes are always in short supply and would make a real and positive impact. A complete list of needs is located on their website at www.abeacon.org.
To offer your services, please call 947-6197. And if you or someone you love needs help, the shelter is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just call 947-6008 or 1-800-650-6522 to have a “beacon of hope” shine on you and your family. You can help end the cycle of violence for someone in desperate need and begin the change that changes lives from mother to daughter to son.
Joanna Bailey is the director of the Bay Minette Public Library. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org