The excellent Oct. 16 article “Domestic Violence takes center stage,” by Josh Lipowsky, could also have been headlined “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” I was glad to see October recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Project SARAH’s outstanding work recognized as well.
As an advocate for domestic violence education, I spoke at the 16th Annual Bergen County Clothesline Project that was held Sept. 16 in Hackensack, at the little park opposite the Court House. National Council Jewish Women, Bergen County Section, is one of the nine agencies that serve on the Clothesline Project Committee. The 2009 project (as well as the 2008 project) was chaired by Angelae Wilkerson of YWCA/Bergen County Rape Crisis Center, who did an outstanding job. My remarks included how to be part of the solution – starting with increasing the number of people who witness the huge display. The Clothesline Project started in 1994 with 147 shirts, and the 2009 display included more than 2,000 shirts. Later that week I spoke to County Executive Dennis McNerney, who agreed to work for the goal of having the hundreds of people who work at the county building attend the 2010 event, even if for 10 minutes. We also work together with courthouse administration to engage the hundreds of people who work at the courthouse. The more people who attend, the more community awareness is raised, the more we can change the cycle of violence in all communities.
Another way to be part of the solution is to plan to bring our students to see/participate in the Clothesline Project. The shirts displayed bear witness to survivors of violence and honor those who died. Let’s continue the “tremendous shift in attitudes about coming forward” cited by Esther East of Jewish Family Service of Greater Clifton-Passaic. Let’s speak to our children about violence and reinforce that violence has no place in a relationship or in a family.