Domestic Violence: Awareness and Remembrance

October 14, 2014

People and t-shirts from the Clothesline Project event

Every year, the Simmons campus comes together to remember alumna Elizabeth "Betsy" McCandless, and all victims of domestic violence with the Clothesline Project.

The Clothesline Project uses t-shirts of different colors to honor and memorialize victims of relationship violence. The t-shirts are decorated with powerful statements, poetry or design and displayed on a clothesline. This display serves to make public the often private, painful, and socially silenced experiences of domestic violence victims.

This year, the Clothesline Project will be held on Wednesday, October 15.

Gina Capra from the Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach Program took the time to answer our questions about domestic violence, her office and the Clothesline Project.

What is the Clothesline Project?

The Clothesline Project was created in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1990, as a public awareness campaign to break the silence surrounding violence against women, while honoring the strength and resilience of victims and survivors. The project involves an installation of hand-decorated t-shirts suspended from clotheslines that represent personal experiences with violence and messages of strength. Over the last 24 years, the project has grown both nationally and internationally.

What inspired Simmons' involvement with the Clothesline Project?

Just a few short years after the birth of the Clothesline Project, Simmons alumna, Elizabeth "Betsy" McCandless lost her life to domestic violence. Her college friends, family and the Office of Student Life came together to bring the Clothesline Project to Simmons College in her memory, to honor other survivors and victims of relationship violence. Through alumnae donations and support from Betsy's brother (now Simmons Board of Trustees Member), Steve McCandless, a fund was created in Betsy's name to support the Betsy's Friends student group, which is still active today.

How does the Clothesline Project affect Simmons students?

The Clothesline Project aims to bring awareness of these issues -- and send an important message that those who are experiencing these sorts of violence are not alone. We strive to empower others to get involved in the movement to end gender-based violence.

Why should students attend?

First and foremost, students should attend the Clothesline Project in honor Betsy McCandless who is, and will always be a part of our Simmons community. Students play an important role in building safe communities and messaging to their peers that they do not support or condone violent or abusive behavior. Taking a stand by supporting meaningful events like our Clothesline Project is a great way to send that message!

What does your office do?

The Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach Program focuses on prevention, education and community awareness around issues of sexual assault, coercion, domestic/dating violence and stalking. We work closely with the Simmons College's Title IX Coordinators, other campus-based support staff, as well as off-campus organizations to provide comprehensive support, resources and options for members of our community who are in need.

Our office is located in room W-003, and we can be reached by email or at 617-521-2118.

What should a student do if they are feeling unsafe in their relationship?

If a student experiences an assault or other emergency, they can call Public Safety or 911 for immediate response (regardless of whether or not the situation occurred on campus). They will then be made aware of their options, such as filing a police report, requesting an order of protection ('no trespass' order on campus or a restraining order through the state of Massachusetts) etc., as well as other resources that are available to support them.

If a student is in an unsafe or concerning relationship, there are a number of resources available both on and off-campus, who can listen, offer support, options and resources.

On Campus:
  • Regina Sherwood, Vice President of Talent and Human Capital Strategy & Title IX Coordinator (THCS Office, C-210, 617-521-2082)
  • Sarah Neill, Vice President of Student Affairs and Associate Provost & Title IX Deputy Coordinator (Room C-219, 617-521-2123)
  • Gina Capra, Program Coordinator of the Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach Program (Room W-003, 617-521-2118)
  • Deans in the Office of Student Life (Room C-211, 617-521-2124)
  • Public Safety (1st floor of the Palace Road Building, for an emergency: 617-521-1111 or non-emergency: 617-521-1112)
  • The Health Center (94 Pilgrim Road, 617-521-1020)
  • The Counseling Center (P-305, 617-521- 2455)
  • Residential Life (94 Pilgrim Road, 617-521-1096)
Off Campus:
  • SafeLink (Massachusetts state-wide 24-Hour domestic violence hotline) - 877-785-2020
  • The Network/La Red (LGBTQ Domestic violence services) - 617-745-4911
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) - 617-492-7273

How can students on campus get involved in ending relationship violence?

There are a few ways that you can get involved! Here are some suggestions:
  • Students can join the Betsy's Friends student group to get involved in ending relationship violence and sexual assault! To learn about exciting upcoming events and meeting times, please email and request to be added to our mailing list.
  • Follow the Violence Prevention and Educational Outreach Program on Facebook.
  • Encourage other student groups to collaborate with Betsy's Friends on campus-based programs and events.
  • Volunteer for a local organization that works to end domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • Stop by the office (W-003) to speak with a staff member about how to get involved.