Love doesn’t bruise

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Dental hygiene sophomore Stephanie Contreras leads a chant of “speak up!” with students, staff and faculty from this college in a march against domestic abuse Oct. 15, 2014. File

Dental hygiene sophomore Stephanie Contreras leads a chant of “speak up!” with students, staff and faculty from this college in a march against domestic abuse Oct. 15, 2014. File

Verbal and emotional abuse can hurt, too, adviser says.

By Y. Arroyo



The Non-traditional Students Club will host two events to spread awareness about domestic violence next week with support from the empowerment center.

A T-shirt Design Project will take place 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11 at the center. Participants will paint the shirts to honor survivors of violence and abuse.

The Clothesline Project Walk will begin at noon Oct. 12 at the center, and participants will march to the mall carrying the T-shirts on a clothesline. The clothesline will be hung at the stairs inside Loftin Student Center.

This college has hosted both events for seven years.

“This walk will help spread awareness because more people will hear about this issue and they’ll begin to ask questions about it,” said empowerment center adviser Maria Jimenez.

Each T-shirt color represents a certain type of abuse. White represents women who died because of violence; red, pink and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault; blue and green T-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse; purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation; and black is for women attacked for political reasons.

The Clothesline Project is a way for women to express their emotions, but also to help as a tool for healing, Jimenez said.

Jimenez got the idea to start the project as a way to educate people about abuse. She learned that the national Clothesline Project is a way women can express their emotions.

About 25 people participated in the march last year.

The National Clothesline Project started in the 1990s when more research was done on domestic violence and how to address those issues.

The name originated with women who would talk about their troubles with neighbors as they hung laundry on clotheslines. Many of the women of that time didn’t speak out about their private lives, so they would talk to their neighbor about the things that they normally kept quiet.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, and 75 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds in Texas have either experienced dating violence or know another young person who has.

Domestic violence is often overlooked, though experts do not know why, said student intern Judith Christy Williamson.

Abuse isn’t only physical; it can also be sexual, verbal, psychological and financial, Jimenez said.

It can seem subtle at first, but then abuse can escalate.

“It might start off almost as sarcasm,” Williamson said. “It can perpetuate then grow into more passive aggressive. It can become something very overt, and it can happen before relationships really start. It can occur years down the road in the timeframe of a relationship.”

A victim’s age plays a big role because authorities might become involved if one of the individuals is a child, an elderly adult or a disabled person.

Emotional abuse is just as serious as physical abuse, Jimenez said.

“Yes, and it comes with psychological abuse,” she said. “If you get degraded verbally, it’s going to affect you emotionally. Words can be very harsh. They can really hurt you or scar you.”

There is no justification for a partner’s abusive actions.

“I truly believe that if you had something happen and you come home and you want to hurt someone in front of you verbally or physically, you need to understand your feelings and back off,” Jimenez said.

If domestic violence is not dealt with effectively, it will continue to cycle through generations.

“If you’re in an environment where you have children and you’re being abused, it starts with you and then it rolls down to a child,” she said. “That child will grow up seeing these things and will think this type of behavior is normal.”


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