This year I volunteered to photograph an annual event, Take Back The Night 2015, at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa, along with my best photog-friend, Jessica (see her post here). Take Back The Night is an international event and non-profit organization with the mission of ending sexual violence in all forms.
It is the hardest blog post for me to write while the awareness of the abuse these women experienced sinks heavily into my heart. The Clothesline Exhibit had an immediate impact on me the moment I arrived at the event. The whole park was covered with lines of t-shirts decorated by survivors of violence. This Clothesline project was created to bring awareness to violence against women. It’s a way to express emotions by decorating a t-shirt by women who have been affected by violence. The intention is to honor survivors, act as a memorial for victims and to aid in the healing process for those who were directly affected and those who have lost someone to violence. It is also a way to educate society and promote awareness…
The t-shirts are color coded to show the form of abuse and whether the victim survived the abuse they experienced:
- Purple / Lavender – women attacked due to their sexual orientation
- Blue / Green – survivors of incest and sexual abuse
- Black – women attacked for political reasons
- White – women who died because of violence
- Red / Pink / Orange – survivors of rape and sexual assault
- Yellow / Beige – battered or assaulted women
The event started with the Music Fest followed by empowering speeches, march, candlelight vigil on violence against women and survivor speak-out.
While I listened to these stories I couldn’t stop thinking of all these women who’ve gone through dark events in their life; the things they had to overcome, to now stand in front of this crowd to give testimony and empower others to do the same, in hopes to stop violence. To open up the heart and reveal the darkest truth takes a lot of strength and courage...
I realized how fortunate I am to have a life I have, surrounded by people who love, respect and support me… Yet, so many others don’t. The things we take for granted, others struggle to have.
To learn more about how you can help those suffering from sexual violence in Tampa Bay, you can read about The Spring of Tampa Bay here. Their mission is to prevent domestic violence, protect victims and promote change in lives, families and communities.
If you need help leaving abusive relationship, call THE SPRING 24-hour HOTLINE: 1-813-247-7233
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 1-800-799-7233