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Raising Awareness Through Creativity

Every April, Steps to HOPE becomes a voice for victims of sexual assault and violence and “joins the conversation” through a nationwide campaign called “The Clothesline Project.” The purpose is to be a silent but visible witness to sexual violence and abuse. It also honors a survivor’s strength to continue living and provide another avenue to courageously break the silence surrounding their experience. Staff, volunteers, customers, shelter clients, and survivors decorate t-shirts bearing facts of sexual assault, things they were told during their experience, call to action to EVERYONE, and courageous words of affirmation for survivors.

“Sadly, this is something that crosses every dividing line. Whether it happens at a party that gets out of control, or at a
bar where a drug is slipped into a drink, or an intruder, or ‘wrong place/wrong time.’ It is predatory and destructive and
life-changing – in a bad way,” Diane Nelson, STH Executive Director notes. Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention share the same month (April) to discuss AWARENESS. “They are absolutely linked. The issues of sexual assault and child abuse have always been WRONG and it’s STILL wrong.” Nelson states. “As we’ve heard and seen in the news of recent years with the whole Epstein mess, no one is off limits. The effects are tragic,” Nelson adds. “How many families have been affected? How many women and men get into domestic violence situations because of a past violation by a friend or family member?” She adds. “The problem that we see over and over is that abuse (both domestic and sexual) begins happening at a very young age and kids see everything and learn things FAR BEFORE they should. And the cycle perpetuates itself,“ Diane Nelson, STH Executive Director, notes. “If sexual assault happens to a child, it usually begins before they can even speak or feel they can speak out about it. Then when a child’s behavior begins to unravel in elementary school, the child is disciplined but the root cause is never discovered until many years later into adulthood, when a suppressed memory surfaces.”

The Clothesline Project display appears at Stearns Park in Columbus, Steps to HOPE Thrift Barn in Landrum, McCreery Park in Saluda, and downtown Tryon. STH has again partnered with area businesses to spread sexual assault awareness through the coffee sleeve project, where SA slogan, “Don’t Stand By, Stand UP,” reminding everyone to be a voice against sexual assault.

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