Women Voice Anger, Show Strength

Jennifer Bernardo

Among the dramatic presentations during Tuesday’s “Open Mike on Domestic Violence,” sponsored by the United Womyn’s Council at GCC, was that of a woman who had been raped while attending UC Berkeley.

The event featured poetry, music and spoken word from the hearts of women whose lives were touched by brutality.

The informal assembly was accompanied by an exhibit of the Clothesline Project, which turned the Plaza Vaquero into a memorial for the resilience of the human spirit.

Students and non-students alike came to speak about their personal experiences as a vehicle for healing and education. The audience was informed of alarming statistics: every minute, there is a reported battery of a woman, and every year, 3,000 children die as a result of child abuse.

“The statistics are startling,” said Regina Lark, an adjunct history instructor and organizer of Women History Month activities. “We are a culture of violence.”

Organizer and Womyn’s Council member Kat Kuckens led the open mike and introduced the speakers. She invited members of the audience to share their personal experiences and urged them to view the Clothesline Project exhibit, the pamphlets provided by the Young Women’s Christian Association and National Organization for Women on domestic violence and child abuse, and the Gay and Lesbian Center booth.

The Clothesline Project was started by a group of women from Cape Cod, Mass. in 1990. It was inspired by the AIDS quilt and used as a means of educating people about the statistics on violence against women. Since then, the project has grown nationwide and internationally, with an estimated 50,000 shirts.

“The concept was simple: let each woman tell her own story, in her own unique way, and it hang it out for all to see,” said Carol A. Chichetto, chair of the project’s steering committee. “It was and is a way of airing society’s dirty laundry.”

NOW provided dozens of shirts that were hung from a clothesline in front of the GCC cafeteria with hand-written personal messages.

Kuckens said she was pleased with the turnout and was surprised that so many people wanted participate. The open mike ran over its allotted one hour.

GCC student Karla Morillo, 24, was one of the speakers who volunteered to pass on her personal stories. Morillo said she was raped when she attended UC Berkeley and consequently found herself in an abusive relationship years later.

“Women just don’t want to talk about it,” Morillo said. “I am sick of tired and keeping my mouth shut. I want the women out there to come up and talk to me when they see me.”

She told the audience that she is available to talk, listen, and provide information and options for women who find themselves in abusive relationships.