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Organizations team up to shed light on sexual assault awareness

By: Marc Stempka

ALTOONA, Pa. -- Members of organizations at Penn State Altoona and Blair Family Services gathered for an event to bring inspiration and awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence victims.

April is sexual assault awareness month and Thursday Penn State Altoona students participated in several events designed to bring awareness to the issue.

Students took part in a Take Back the Night event, a walk to raise sexual assault and domestic violence awareness, and also the Clothesline Project, where students and victims were encouraged to write messages or thoughts on clothes regarding sexual assault or domestic violence.

Blair Family Services Director of Education and Marketing Cheryl Gonsman said the Clothesline Project is a powerful way for victims to have a voice, but also to let others know that a sexual assault could happen to anyone.

Participants were asked to write messages on T-shirts, jeans and other clothing and hang them on a clothesline for viewing.

"It's a way of, a form of healing," Gonsman said. "They get to tell their story because we're always taught as a community, you don't air dirty laundry and so these T-shirts are kind of a way of airing that dirty laundry and making it okay to talk about it."

Blair Family Services provides support and counseling to any victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and also operate several community shelters in the Altoona area for those seeking help and guidance.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times