Domestic violence survivors speak out

Heartbreaking messages are written on t-shirts from survivors of domestic abuse.

MANISTEE COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Advocates and survivors across northern Michigan are standing up against domestic violence as part of domestic violence awareness month.

A national project called the Clothesline Project is shining light on the issue and giving survivors a voice in Manistee County.

Heartbreaking messages are written on t-shirts from survivors of domestic abuse.

The shirts are hanging in the hallway of the Manistee County Courthouse.

“The idea is that a victim or survivor of domestic abuse or sexual assault could decorate a shirt and hang it up on the clothesline and with that address the traumatic event that occurred and with that hope and move forward in healing,” said Manistee County Assistant Prosecutor Jonathon Hauswirth.

All the shirts have been created by local survivors. They range from adult shirts to onesies showing victims come in all ages, sizes, and gender.

Some shirts have inspiring messages, like “stay strong,” others may be graphic describing the survivor's experience.

“It’s real in our community and it’s not meant to be censored so people are talking and some people are going to get upset, some people could get emotional over it,” said Shanaviah Canales, program coordinator with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government Family Victims Services Program.

“These types of crimes are happening in every community in homes and they are very much done in the dark and our goal is to shine a light on that,” Hausworth said.

According to the attorney, his office has seen an increase in domestic violence and sexual assault cases in the last year.

Hauswirth is also part of the co-chair for the Manistee County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Team, a group of more than a dozen organizations working to provide resources if survivors are looking for assistance.

“Law enforcement, your court, your advocates, your health care people so you have all sorts of people working together to make sure we can help,” Canales said.

Advocates say they hope the project empowers survivors to seek help.

The shirts will be on display at the courthouse for the rest of the month.

One in three women and one in four men are victims of domestic violence.


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