COLUMBUS, GA — "Don't hit me anymore!" That's a simple enough statement, but a very powerful one when viewing it as a piece of artwork drawn by a woman who's experienced domestic violence. That's the point Columbus Alliance for Battered Women, Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Verizon Wireless are hoping to make with the new Georgia Clothesline Project. Traveling now throughout Georgia in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the Clothesline Project will be on display in Columbus as part of a 650 mile tour of Georgia.
Designed to promote social change, the Clothesline Project is an art exhibit created by domestic violence survivors and their loved ones. This statewide project stops in Columbus, in partnership with Columbus Alliance for Battered Women, from October 26-29, and will be displayed at the Government Center, Plaza Level and Columbus Regional Medical Center, exhibiting art from local survivors. A press conference Tuesday, October 26 at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Clothesline Project at the Government Center will feature comments from Verizon Wireless, Columbus Police Department and Columbus Alliance for Battered Women. In each city, survivors are encouraged to express themselves through art created on t-shirts as their blank canvas. These t-shirts are then displayed on a clothesline exhibit for all to experience. Following the press conference, the exhibit will be housed in the lobby of Columbus Regional Medical Center until October 29.
"Our goal is to show the citizens of Columbus the reality of domestic violence with the experiences expressed in these t-shirts," says Jim McGean, President Verizon Wireless Georgia/Alabama Region. "The survivors who expressed themselves through this art project join our public effort to save lives and let people know that there is help if they are in a domestic violence situation."
"Domestic Violence has no geographic or social boundaries. Though it's one of the most under-reported crimes in the country, thousands of people across Georgia are affected by this issue every day, including women and children in Columbus," says Kama Tate Gregory, Executive Director, Columbus Alliance for Battered Women. "We are thrilled that Verizon Wireless is helping us execute the Columbus Clothesline Project and thank them for all the work they do to draw attention to domestic violence prevention."
The Clothesline Project began in the summer of 1990 when a coalition of women's groups on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, decided to develop a program to raise awareness about violence against women. Not unlike the AIDS quilt, the clothesline and its t-shirts depict individual stories from domestic violence survivors who have decorated them in their own unique ways. Each t-shirt not only acts as an educational tool for those who come to view the clothesline, but is also acts as a healing tool for the person who made it.
Verizon Wireless' HopeLineSM Program is also an integral part of the Georgia Clothesline Project exhibit. The program allows those who want to make a contribution to domestic violence prevention to donate an old or used wireless phone to the program. The company takes these phones, refurbishes them and either donates them to local domestic violence shelters or recycles them with proceeds being donated to shelters throughout the state. In addition, Verizon Wireless offers the #HOPE program. Victims of abuse are able to get professional support quickly and confidentially by dialing #HOPE from a Verizon Wireless phone. Calls are routed to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE).
"Domestic violence prevention is important to Verizon Wireless, as it should be to all companies. Domestic violence can have an impact on the workplace, through absenteeism, lost productivity and poor morale," says McGean. "But the real victims are the families impacted by the problem. Columbus Alliance for Battered Women is on the front lines fighting this issue in Columbus and Verizon Wireless is committed to doing what we can to assist. Our company's commitment to domestic violence awareness and prevention is ongoing, so we will continue to help end this overwhelming social dilemma."
*Editor's Note According to the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between January and December of 2003, there were 132 domestic violence related fatalities in Georgia, which ranks 17th in the nation for its rate of men killing women. In 2003 the CDC reported that the national cost of domestic violence exceeded an estimated $5.8 million annually.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 40.4 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.
About Columbus Alliance for Battered Women
For 26 years CABW has supported women and their families in their efforts to live violence free by providing safety and shelter for battered women and their children and restoring power, self-sufficiency and control to survivors. The 39 bed shelter is for women and children and covers 6 counties. The purpose of the CABW Shelter is to decrease the level of domestic violence in Muscogee and surrounding counties and offer services to deal with the effects of domestic violence when it occurs.
About Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADV) is a non-profit coalition of over 60 domestic violence programs and organizations working to end domestic violence. The Coalition works toward the elimination of domestic violence by increasing victim safety and batterer accountability. GCADV utilizes a variety of strategies toward this goal including promoting changes in institutional responses, supporting intervention programs, statewide planning, training and technical assistance, public policy advocacy, public awareness activities, garnering federal funding for Georgia services such as the legal assistance project and the transitional housing project, and the operation of a state-wide toll-free domestic violence hotline, 800-33-HAVEN, which routes domestic violence victims to shelters throughout Georgia.