The t-shirts hanging in the windows of many local businesses in Lismore CBD this week might look like dirty laundry – and that’s because they are.
‘I got flowers today; I know he must be sorry,’ reads the t-shirt in the window of Lavish Florist on Magellan Street, while a t-shirt in the window of Clipso Hairdressing shows two tiny hand prints with the text ‘I am 3 years old. I was 1 when I fled my home from domestic violence.’
The t-shirts were created by local women at recent workshops for Dirty Laundry Day Project to raise awareness about domestic and family violence. Creating the t-shirts gave a voice to people who suffer in silence and pain and allow them to air their dirty laundry without fear or shame.
The messages painted onto the t-shirts tell the stories of more than 50 local women who were brave enough to share their message, raise awareness about violence and to let others know ‘you are not alone’.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, up to 80 per cent of women who have experienced intimate partner violence or sexual assault did not report it to the police.
Project coordinator Niki Gill said this year the Men and Family Centre also encouraged men to be involved in the project.
‘Men had an opportunity to stand up and give a clear and moving message about the impact of violence and control in relationships,’ Niki said. ‘A t-shirt display in the Newcastle Permanent window in Molesworth Street depicts a t-shirt that states ‘Domestic violence stops with me’.
The t-shirts will be on display in the Lismore CBD until Friday, November 22, and then will be on exhibition in the Lismore C3A Community Hub at Lismore Central.
There will also be an exhibition opening and morning tea on November 25 at 10.30am for White Ribbon Day and everyone is welcome to attend. Special guests and speakers on the day include Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell. White Ribbon Day is an international event to raise awareness about violence against women and is traditionally a male-led movement to end men’s violence against women.
Byron White Ribbon events
The Byron region will also play host to two White Ribbon events in coming weeks.
The first event is a free workshop called Men Achieving Peaceful Solutions on Saturday December 7 , 1-5.30pm at the Suffolk Park Community Centre. Men will be able to discuss and work with some of their own questions and issues and experiences of anger, confusion, frustration and violence, in a safe, professionally facilitated and non-judgemental environment.
The second event, which is open to everyone to attend, is on Wednesday December 18 in Byron Bay, starting at Railway Park, opposite the Community Centre in Johnson Street. From 2pm onwards the White Ribbon Oath Tent will be set up for men to come and write or say the White Ribbon Oath – ‘I swear never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women, this is my oath’ – to show their support for this worthy cause.
The White Ribbon Walk will start at 6pm, led by two people on horseback, support from the local police, ambulance and fire brigade and many other organisations. At the end of the walk we will gather to share a sacred space where the White Ribbon Oath will be spoken collectively to reinforce the commitment. Local musicians and entertainers, including Dancing Man – Tommy Franklin, Ash Grunwald, Akmal and Greg Sheehan will then wrap up the evening.