Group uses T-shirts to spread a message of respect

| 22 Feb 2012 | 08:22

April is sexual assault awareness month and Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Intervention Services (DASI) displayed society’s dirty laundry for all to see. On Wednesday, over 125 T-shirts bearing messages of the trauma of sexual assault were hung from clothes lines in the galleria of the Student Activities Building at Sussex County Community College and in the gazebo in front of the building. The uncertain economic future and rising unemployment may tip the balance toward violence. “Stressors may provoke violence,” said Gwen Federico, Sexual Assault Program Director. In an effort to head off future problems DASI teaches a six-session Expect Respect program in the high schools as part of the health education program. “We also conduct programs in the middle schools. Violence issues are presenting earlier and earlier,” said Federico. “At the grammar school level we teach empathy and communication skills to head off future violence.” Using various art supplies provided by DASI and a T-shirt as a canvas, several more shirts were added to the collection. “Mostly men stepped up to put a message on a shirt,” said Murjina Dunay. Generally thought of as a crime against women, men are victims also. “When they are victims of personal violence men don’t speak up. Men rarely report sexual abuse,” said Dunay. While not as dramatic as last year’s outdoor display, the tee shirts conveyed the damage to society caused by sexual assault and the messages of hope for a more peaceful society. For the DASI Community Outreach Center, call 973-579-2386 Collect calls are accepted at the 24-hour hotline. 973-875-1211.