T-shirts speak back to violence

T-shirts have all kinds of messages printed on them. Ads, jokes, and sports team logos are familiar ones. However, in April, handwritten messages on T-shirts displayed across all Delaware County Community College campuses had an underlying theme: I am a survivor.

To take a stand against sexual assault, nearly 30 students and staff each wrote a message on a T-shirt that was hung on a clothesline for all to see in the Academic Building Lobby on the Marple Campus. 

The Clothesline Project is held nationwide at many colleges, universities, and churches during Sexual Assault Prevention Month.

In the past four years, more than “50 staff and students have shared their personal stories either at the Clothesline Project event itself or later in the Career and Counseling Services areas across all campuses,” Christine Doyle, DCCC associate professor, and counselor, wrote in an email interview.

According to Doyle, the types of violence shared openly with DCCC counselors include sexual assault, rape, gun violence, and domestic violence. 

For the Clothesline Project, shirts are created by people who experienced violence or want to remember a loved one who had perished from violence. 

 Doyle said many students find creating a T-shirt to be emotional and cathartic. During the event, one or two counselors are present if a student becomes overwhelmed or wants to talk through their feelings. 

“Many affected by making a T-shirt choose to see a counselor discuss their feelings in private and get additional support as they share their experiences.”

The Career and Counseling Center offers short-term personal counseling for students who need to talk. However, many students needing additional services are referred to outside community services.

“Any student who has experienced violence or has loved ones who have experienced violence, can make an appointment to speak to a counselor,” Doyle said. “We can help address their feelings while they learn ways to become empowered.”

Call Career and Counseling Services at 610-359-5324 for an in-person, phone, or Zoom appointment or book online. Appointments are not always needed but are encouraged. If a student needs to be seen immediately, walk into the Center at Marple or Student Services on the other campuses.

By Lauren Keatley

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