Mt. San Jacinto College student Mariah Beadles is a rape survivor.
The 22-year-old student got a chance Thursday to speak out against sexual assault during the Clothesline Project, held at Mt. San Jacinto College’s Menifee Valley campus. Participants did so by transferring their thoughts to T-shirts using paints, markers and anything else that might make their message stand out.
Beadles made a T-shirt with the message, “No means no…Rape hurts forever.”
Beadles said she was 16 when she got raped in a Murrieta parking lot after her shift at Carl’s Jr. It took her a year to tell anyone and it has taken several more years for her to begin the healing process, she said. The man who attacked her has never been caught.
It is the second year Beadles has made a T-shirt, which the victims then hang on clotheslines throughout the campus to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.
“This gives me a voice,” she said.
Many T-shirts will be on display in the Learning Resource Center throughout the month of April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The Clothesline Project was brought to the campus by the MSJC Diversity Committee and the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center. The project was started in the 1990s in Cape Cod and has since gained ground as a way give sexual assaults victims a voice.
“The idea was that in the old days women would socialize while hanging their laundry. They came up with an idea to use the laundry as a medium to communicate about the pain and affect sexual assault and violence against men, women and children have on the individual, their families, the community and society,” said Vera Stamenkovic, MSJC associate faculty and co-chair of the Diversity Committee.
Stamenkovic said sometimes there is a lot of shame associated with being a sexual assault victim.
“In some societies and cultures there is shame and disgrace in lack of virginity,” she said.
Through the project, Stamenkovic said the committee is working to empower the students and community members to speak up against abuse and violence.
“We are encouraging them to speak up on their behalf and the behalf of others as ‘bad secrets’ can perpetrate the cycle of violence,” she said.
Self-defense workshops are available through the Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center, according to Marcy Duncan, community education coordinator for the center. Women-only classes are held, as well as co-ed classes for ages 12 and up. Regularly scheduled workshops take place the second Saturday of each month at Avaxat Elementary in Murrieta.
As a victim, Beadles said she has attended the workshops twice, and said knowing what she knows now about self-defense would have helped her when she was attacked.
“I am better prepared now,” Beadles said.
To find out more about the self-defense workshops, visit www.rarcc.org. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 800-787-3224.
Editor’s note: SWRNN does not generally identify victims of rape and other sexually related crimes, but the subject in this story gave permission while participating in the event.