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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Words of healing: Messages on 'line' decry domestic violence

Friday, October 12, 2012

Haven of Hope takes part in the Clothesline Project, which raises awareness for domestic violence issues.
(T-G-photo by Jim Davis) [Order this photo]
As pink ribbons flourish in the community this month promoting breast cancer awareness, organizers at the Haven of Hope are set to remind residents of another crisis affecting women.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence has adopted purple -- the color of a bruise -- to promote awareness and show support.

Over the fence

Last year Haven of Hope took part in The Clothesline Project, an initiative which began in 1990 with a Hyannis, Mass., women's group who wanted to create a visually striking monument to inspire conversations about domestic abuse.

Noting that women in close-knit neighborhoods traditionally shared information over backyard fences while hanging laundry out to dry, the Project was formed.

Using a group of T-shirts designed by local women, a visual display of the tees was hung in several public places -- in some cases, causing a slowing of traffic as residents took note of messages the shirts contained.

This year's display is scaled back, more portable, as paper tees were colored and decorated with messages representing each woman's struggle, and collectively a wide spectrum of abuse.

'Healing tool'

Barbara Simmons, now in her 15th year with Haven of Hope, is the county's advocate and shelter coordinator for the non-profit.

"When you see something that you can put your hands on, and read it and it affects you -- that's bringing awareness to the community," Simmons said. "It was a healing tool for the survivors, and for us as advocates, it moved us to continue to do this work."

Haven of Hope's mission is to provide proactive, curative, and preventive measures against domestic violence and to provide caring support and services to victims of domestic violence. Workers also talk to outside organizations about domestic violence in order to raise awareness.

Services available

The agency provides emergency shelter and outreach advocacy services for victims and their families in Bedford, Coffee, Franklin, Lincoln, Marshall and Moore counties.

The agency has new funding to pay for licensed counseling for victims of sexual assault. If a loved one is a survivor of past sexual assault and is still experiencing problems dealing with victimization, Haven of Hope is able to arrange professional counseling.

Need help?

Haven of Hope has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence, 800-435-7739. Bedford County residents may call (931) 680-3005.