HealingSPACE hosts events throughout the year to raise community awareness about sexual violence and prevention. Annual events are noted below, and additional activities are listed on our events calendar.
The Week Without Violence™ is a signature initiative created by YWCA USA nearly 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs. Each year, YWCA’s around the country host local Week Without Violence™ events and create robust public dialogue about violence. 2015’s Week Without Violence™ initiative focuses on Domestic Violence. Click here for more information and resources on domestic and sexual violence.
Community supporters of YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE host Traveling Clothesline Project Exhibits throughout the year. These powerful displays are designed to raise awareness of the devastating impact violence has on the community, featuring hundreds of t-shirts created by survivors of personal violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, child abuse and murder. Creating shirts promotes healing by providing survivors with an avenue to break the silence of their victimization, and allows others insight into their personal experience.
On April 30th, Bergen Community College’s Green Dot Action themed Clothesline Project will be held in Paramus, NJ. Felician College will host an April 13th Clothesline Project in the Quad of their Lodi, NJ campus 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on April 16th, Becton High School and on April 8th, Farleigh Dickinson University will hold a private Traveling Clothesline Project for their students.
In 1990, a group of women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts wanted to develop a program that would educate their community and bear witness to violence against women. This small group of women, most of them survivors themselves, wanted to find a very visual display to help the community understand the staggering impact of violence. Moved by the AIDS quilt, one woman decided to hang t-shirts on a clothesline to represent one type of violence committed against women. The clothesline seemed appropriate, as doing laundry was (and often still is) considered a “woman’s job”. Domestic and sexual violence were also considered private family matters, and victims were often told not to air their “dirty laundry.” The concept is simple: survivors create shirts to be displayed on the line, expressing themselves using words or artwork. This action serves multiple purposes: it acts as an educational tool for those who view the shirts, creates a vehicle for healing for the person creating the shirt, and lets those who are still suffering know that they are not alone. Clothesline Project events are now held in almost every state in the U.S. as well as in countries across the globe. HealingSPACE has held its own Clothesline Project for 20 years, using over 1,800 t-shirts to create this moving and powerful display. We continue to honor survivors and their courage to heal, to break the silence of sexual violence, domestic violence, and murder, and to bear witness to the journey many embark on after victimization.
The 20th Annual Bergen County Clothesline Project was held on September 18, 2013. View our photo gallery here.
To help plan or participate in this event, please contact us at 201-881-1751.
The goal of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it. The focus of this year’s SAAM is to support campuses in creating a culture of prevention and effective, trauma-informed response. YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE 2015 SAAM initiatives include The Traveling Clothesline Project, Denim Day, and Ramapo College’s Rally to End Rape Culture and It’s on Us Public Service Announcement.
Past SAAM events have included local library displays with recommended readings, teal ribbon displays, a white ribbon campaign for men, poster campaigns, and art and poetry readings and displays.
Denim Day is an annual movement designed to empower and support survivors of sexual violence. Wearing jeans on Denim Day has become an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. Community members can show their support by wearing jeans to work or while out in the community.
One way to help raise awareness about sexual violence is through Denim Day. Never heard of Denim Day? Here is a brief history…
Denim Day History
In Italy, an 18-year old girl is picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He takes her to an isolated road, pulls her out of the car, wrestles her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully rapes her. Threatened with death if she tells anyone, he makes her drive the car home. Later that night she tells her parents, and they help and support her to press charges. The perpetrator gets arrested and is prosecuted. He is convicted of rape and sentenced to prison.
He appeals the sentence. The case makes its all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor is overturned, dismissed, and the perpetrator released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”
Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly to do the same, which in turn spread to Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, and Denim Day in LA was born. The first Denim Day in LA was in April 1999, and has continued every year since.
YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE was the first sexual violence program in New Jersey to bring Denim Day to our home state in 2007. In 2010, Denim Day became a statewide official day of recognition on April 28th.
Denim Day in the Community
Throughout the month of April we offer companies, organizations, and schools the opportunity to participate in Denim Day by hosting events that highlight this issue. Schools invite healingSPACE staff to provide workshops and to create denim patches with positive messages of consent and healthy relationships. To inquire about bringing Denim Day to your school, call 201-881-1751. For ideas about hosting your own Denim Day activities, download the Denim Day Toolkit for Schools.
Dollar$ for Denim
One way for companies and organizations to get involved is through the Dollar$ for Denim campaign. HealingSPACE offers the opportunity for organizations to “make a social statement with their fashion statement” by inviting employees to wear jeans to work in exchange for making a small contribution. They can take a stand against sexual violence and support healingSPACE’s ongoing work. For more information about Dollar$ for Denim, please call 201-881-1752 or download the Denim Day Toolkit for Companies & Organizations.
Writing and artwork have always been helpful to many in the healing process, as well as a way to cope with the abuse they are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. HealingSPACE archives artwork created by survivors and is able to display it through the “Art of Healing” event. If your school or organization is interested in displaying this artwork, please call us at 201-881-1755. Individuals are also welcome to donate their poetry or artwork.