At the event the NCRCC was hosting a local exhibition of the Clothesline Project, a grassroots movement in which local survivors wrote messages on colored shirts that corresponded to the types violence they experienced. I and one of the other volunteers tied the clothesline and hung the shirts. However, for every shirt we were able to hang, there were two or three that we weren’t able to accommodate space for. At the same time, and using the same space for effect, the HDVPC displayed life-size silhouettes of all the local people killed by domestic violence within the last year and a plaque explaining the individual circumstances of their deaths. Once the exhibit was displayed we set up tables with information brochures regarding both organizations and items to hand out during the festivities. We engaged with those who came up to the tables, answered questions, and once the event was over, we carefully removed the displays, cleaned up our space, and said a prayer for those we represented.
The most challenging experience of the event...
... middle of paper ...
...tedly highlighted, rural services are constantly underfunded and understaffed, rely heavily on untrained or undertrained volunteers, and lack community support. The messages on the shirts echoed the concerns of the book discussing how isolation, poverty, bigotry, and patriarchy played a role in their abuse.
Ultimately, I felt particularly helpful acting as a local, often being recognized by family, friends, and community networks and engaging them with the topic. Through this engagement I was able to bridge them to information and services, learning along with them how to engage the topic respectfully and openly. I learned a lot about the difficulty in running family violence services in rural communities, the difficulty in expressing the scope and nature of the issue, and especially about how to handle the emotional toll of the topic and the job through self-care.
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