Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The profoundly powerful & personal Clothesline Project July 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Clothesline Project, music art

 

AMELIA, BEVERLY, DORIS, Katie, Prince Pope…from places like Apple Valley, Springfield, Worthington, Farmington, St. Paul and elsewhere in Minnesota…

 

Clothesline Project, 1 in 3 stats

 

In all, 23 names. Twenty-three women, children and men who lost their lives in Minnesota last year as a result of domestic violence.

 

Clothesline Project, 2 lines of t-shirts

 

To hear those names read Sunday afternoon against a backdrop of 60 white t-shirts fluttering in the breeze marked a powerful moment as the Crisis Resource Center of Steele County, Redeemer Lutheran Church and the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women brought The Clothesline Project to Owatonna’s Central Park.

The Rev. Kirk Griebel spoke to the group, read a mayoral proclamation and led a prayer.

The Rev. Kirk Griebel spoke to the group, read a mayoral proclamation and led a prayer.

The t-shirts, strung on clotheslines between trees, are “a powerful and safe witness to those who have lost their lives through domestic violence,” the Rev. Kirk Griebel said.

 

Clothesline Project, Miranda Schunk

 

He is right. To see those shirts with names and art emblazoned thereon, to read dates and details and the horrors of the victims’ deaths makes a visually powerful statement. Domestic violence becomes up close and personal.

 

Clothesline Project, Margie Brown Holland

 

Clothesline Project, info about Margie

 

So personal for me that I noted two shirts honoring Margie Brown Holland and her unborn daughter, Oliva, murdered by Margie’s husband. Margie’s dad once lived across the street from me in Faribault.

 

Clothesline Project, Rainya and Komel

 

Clothesline Project, Anarae Schunk

 

Clothesline Project, Chris Panitzke

 

I recognized so many names from media reports—Raniya and Komel Crowley, dead at the hands of their father/husband: Anarae Schunk; Christopher Panitzke…

 

Clothesline Project, Dearest Poppy

 

Words of love and grief and hope that touch the soul for the lives lost for those forever changed by the violence.

Owatonna Police Chief Keith Hiller addresses the topic of domestic violence.

Owatonna Police Chief Keith Hiller addresses the topic of domestic violence. “I will continue to pray,” he said, “that we don’t lose anyone else (to domestic violence) in our beautiful community of Owatonna.”

To hear Owatonna Police Chief Keith Hiller’s plea to “break the silence,” to understand that domestic violence is a community-wide problem is a statement worth repeating. In 2014, his department responded to 184 calls of aggravated and other assaults, many involving domestic violence. He confirmed that in the field of law enforcement, more officers are killed while responding to domestic violence calls than any other type. Family dynamics, weapons, chemical dependency and mental health issues are often involved in these heated situations, he explained.

 

Clothesline Project, in her honor

 

In a particularly chilling comment, Chief Hiller noted that in cases of strangulation, a matter of seconds may determine whether a victim survives or a t-shirt would be hung on the clothesline. Life and death in the hands of an abuser. Seconds.

 

Clothesline Project, daughter, sister

 

The police chief called for awareness and prevention, of working together. On Sunday afternoon in Owatonna, 60 t-shirts bannered that message in a deeply personal and powerful way.

 

BONUS PHOTOS:

 

Clothesline Project, Kiela Gem

 

Clothesline Project, pink shirt

 

Laci Brune, sexual assault coordinator for the Crisis Resource Center of Steele County, reads the names of those who died as a result of domestic violence in Minnesota in 2014.

Laci Brune, sexual assault coordinator for the Crisis Resource Center of Steele County, reads the names of those who died as a result of domestic violence in Minnesota in 2014. She told attendees that, on average, a woman will leave her abuser seven or eight times before she finally leaves for good.

Details on a t-shirt.

Details on a t-shirt honoring Nancy A. Sullivan, 57, of Shoreview, who died on June 4, 2013. These words are written on her shirt: “Safety is a basic human right!”

 

Clothesline Project, t-shirts in a row

 

Clothesline Project, t-shirts in a row, green design

 

Clothesline Project, Never forget

 

FYI: If you are in a relationship that doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, trust your instincts. If words and behavior differ, if red flags are popping up, if you feel like your partner may be lying or using you, believe yourself, not him/her.

Domestic abuse is about control and manipulation. It can take the forms of physical (including sexual), mental, emotional, financial and spiritual abuse.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. Have a safe plan to leave. When you leave an abuser, it is the most dangerous time for you.

Seek help from a local resource center or safe house. Or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-800-799-7233. You deserve to be free.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thrivent Financial funded bringing The Clothesline Project to Owatonna.