Education is central to stopping sexual violence before it starts. healingSPACE hosts events in the community throughout the year and offers primary prevention education and training programs for schools, organizations, and businesses.
National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), which takes place each year in April, raises public awareness about sexual violence and educates communities on how to prevent it. During SAAM, YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE hosts a series of events calling on individuals, communities, and the private sector to be part of the solution by taking action during and beyond SAAM to create the cultural shift necessary to eliminate sexual violence for all.
Wearing jeans on Denim Day, which takes place each year in April, 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.
Denim Day was born out of an Italian rape case in which the perpetrator, a 45-year-old driving instructor, raped his 18-year-old student, for which he was convicted and sentenced. On appeal of his conviction, which was overturned, the Chief Judge of the Italian Supreme Court argued that “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.” Women in the Italian Parliament launched a protest by wearing jeans to work. This call-to-action inspired the California Senate and Assembly to do the same, which in turn spread to Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, launching Denim Day in Los Angeles in April 1999, which has continued every year since.
healingSPACE was the first sexual violence program in New Jersey to bring Denim Day to our home state in 2007. In 2009, Denim Day became a statewide official day of recognition on April 28th. healingSPACE encourages schools, organizations, and companies to participate in Denim Day by hosting their own Denim Day events.
Clothesline Project on the Green in Hackensack, is hosted by healingSPACE and community partners to raise awareness of violence against women, men, and children and demonstrate to survivors that they are not alone. The Clothesline Project features thousands of t-shirts created by survivors and their loved ones to promote healing by providing an avenue to break the silence. Visitors can participate by creating their own shirts and pledging their support for the community’s anti-violence efforts. The event also features presentations by dignitaries and survivors as well as information and resource tables from diverse community partners.
Week Without Violence is a signature initiative created by YWCA USA over 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 in October, YWCAs around the country host local Week Without Violence events and create robust public dialogue about violence.
Community supporters of 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 t-shirts created by survivors of personal violence, including sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, child abuse, and murder. Creating shirts promotes healing and gives others insight into this personal experience.
The Clothesline Project was created in 1990 by a group of women in Cape Cod, MA—most of them survivors themselves—who wanted to educate their community and bear witness to violence against women. Inspired 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.”
If you would like to host a Traveling Clothesline Project exhibit, contactcontact healingSPACE at 201-881-1751 or [email protected]..
Writing and artwork have always been helpful to many as ways to cope with present or past abuse and in the healing process. healingSPACE archives and displays artwork created by survivors in Art of Healing exhibit.
If you would like to submit your work or host an Art of Healing exhibit in your school, organization, or community, contact healingSPACE at 201-881-1751 or [email protected].