Campaign against sexual assault gives a voice to survivors

MACOMB (WGEM) – With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a local campaign makes a difference.

The Western Illinois Regional Council and Community Action Agency’s Clothesline Project aims to highlight survivors of sexual assault.

Survivors, loved ones and allies are invited to design a t-shirt that will be hung on a clothesline and displayed at various community events throughout the rest of the month.

Each shirt has a color code that indicates what happened to each survivor. (ie blue/green represents child sexual abuse or incest survivors, purple for those who have been assaulted because of their sexual orientation, white for people who have died from violence).

“Right now there’s still a lot of stigma to remain silent when this crime happens to someone,” said Jamie Roth, WIRC’s public relations manager. “People worry that they won’t be believed, or that it’s somehow their fault, or that they might get some kind of retribution from the abuser. So we hope the Clothesline Project will help more people come forward, tell their stories, and get the help they need.”

Victim services educator Mariah Huston said there were 221 hotline calls in 2021. She said campaigns like the Clothesline Project are correlated with more people reaching out for help.

“As people become more comfortable, that number tends to increase,” Huston said. “And while we don’t like that the number is growing based on the experiences they’ve had, it’s good to know that they’re happy to reach out to us and look for support.”

Police Chief Jeral Jones says the Macomb Police Department takes reports of sexual assault very seriously and each case is unique.

“We work with a number of community-based organizations here in the Macomb community who also assist in providing resources to victims of sexual abuse and victims of child abuse,” Jones said.

Jones said if you or someone you know is involved in an abusive situation or is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1.

Victim Services has a 24-hour hotline with free resources and support at 309-837-5555.

The list of events of the Clothesline Project can be found here:

  • April 18: The Clothesline Project from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Knox College campus in Galesburg.
  • April 19th: The Clothesline Project from 9am to 3pm at Monmouth College in Monmouth.
  • April 23: The Awareness Table from 1pm to 3:30pm at the County Market in Carthage.
  • April 27: The Awareness Table from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Fisher Foods in Oquawka.
  • April 27: The Awareness Table from 1pm to 3:30pm at Save-A-Lot Foods in Monmouth.

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