Wanda English Burnett
lined the clothesline that was strung on both sides of the podium
where women told their stories of abuse and rape at the annual
Take Back The Night event held April 22 sponsored
by the Community Mental Health Center.
Designs on the shirts were reflective of pain caused by abuse.
Some were made by the victims, or survivors, while others were
made by family and friends to honor what their loved ones have
endured. Words such as why, dirty, and fear were
seen on many shirts. Phrases such as Im your partner,
not your possession, and Love Should Never Hurt,
and Shes my daughter, Why? were expressed.
The shirts are a visual tribute to survivors of sexual assault
Cathy Dwyer with Community Mental Health Directions! Support
and Advocacy Services, welcomed the crowd at the Dearborn Adult
Center. She noted that society as a whole tends to blame victims
of sexual assault, saying things like, Well they went
to the party, or they wore that outfit. She
said often when victims come forward to say what has happened,
they are the ones blamed. It is our job to change this
tide of victim blaming...even when its not the perfect
crime, we need to dig deeper, Dwyer advised.
Dwyer cautioned those in attendance that sometimes those in
authority look the other way if they dont have the evidence
they feel is necessary to convict. Remember, just because
theres not enough evidence doesnt mean a crime didnt
occur, she stated. She thanked the Batesville and Lawrenceburg
police for being represented at the event, as well as the Dearborn
County Prosecutors office.
A greater awareness gives power to make sure the rapists are
brought to justice. Dwyer told those gathered that by their
presence they were making a difference.
Statistics from the National Crime Center note that one out
of two women will be in a violent relationship. The U.S. Justice
Department states that every single minute of every day more
than one woman is raped in America. Armed with statistics such
as these spurs Dwyer and others forward with their quest to
fully support victims/survivors of crimes such as these.
Survivors of sexual assault were featured speakers for the event
with passionate stories of lives forever changed.
Sex crimes reach across a broad spectrum. One speaker came from
an affluent family where the mayor was invited to their
house on a regular basis. She was still assaulted by her
grandfather, beginning when she was two-years-old, who was well
respected in the community. He was never brought to justice.
Another speaker, who was sexually assaulted in her own home
at the age of ten, went on to have other acts of sexual violence
against her, including a gang rape when she was in the military.
She had failed relationships and told her devastation when first
learning she was pregnant. She didnt want to bring a little
girl into the world who might suffer the same abuses as she
In addressing the crowd, Dwyer repeated the phrase, rape
affects every aspect of your life - for the rest of your life.
Both of the featured speakers expressed their brokenness and
feelings of being betrayed by people they thought loved them.
They thanked Dwyer for inviting them to share their stories
and further their healing. Both noted that God was the number
one source of their healing, but support and therapy also played
The evening ended with families of victims/survivors lighting
candles in their honor and the chant heard, Mothers, Daughters,
Sisters, Men - Lets make the night safe again! Those
participating in the candle lighting ceremony noted it was a
poignant reminder of the barbaric crimes that are committed
The Clothesline Project will be on display this Thursday, April
29 at the Ripley County Courthouse in Versailles from 10 a.m.
until 4 p.m.
Everyone is invited to the display that brings awareness of
women survivors of violence such as rape, sexual assault, dating
violence, and domestic violence. This visual awareness is a
tribute to the courage of all women and brings about awareness
of the heinous crimes against the women.
Tables will be set up for those wanting to create their own
shirt to join the others hanging on the clothesline. Advocates
for the program will be on hand to further discuss the Clothesline
Project, which originated in Massachusetts in the fall of 1990.
It is now in more than 500 communities and several foreign countries.
No names are used as the shirts are created to protect the privacy
of those who have already been violated. The materials to create
a shirt are available for anyone who wants to participate. Also,
a licensed therapist will be available for those with questions
or needing to talk.
For more information or if you are interested in becoming a
volunteer for Directions! Rape Crisis Support & Advocacy
Services, you can contact Dwyer at 812-532-3470 or email her