Clothesline Project brings awareness to domestic violence

Driving or walking along East Fourth and East Tipton streets in Seymour, take note of the pink and white T-shirts hanging on a clothesline.

Those will be in place for two weeks as part of the annual Clothesline Project.

For the 10th year, Cummins Seymour Engine Plant is bringing awareness to domestic violence by having employees write messages on shirts.

On Oct. 27, 100 shirts were clipped onto the clotheslines by Cummins employees, local government officials, local law enforcement and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services staff.

“Thank you to Cummins,” said Arriann Custer, the new community services director for Turning Point in Jackson County. “We appreciate all of the support that you’ve given us, not only in holding this event but raising funds.”

During the ceremony, a $1,215 check was presented to Custer from a Halloween costume contest fundraiser at Cummins.

“That helps us continue to do the vital things that we do in the community, which not only provides support to survivors, but it helps us, allows us to provide professional training, emergency housing and definitely prevention education in several school corporations, at our local jail and throughout the community,” Custer said.

She also thanked others at the ceremony for their work in the community.

“It is much appreciated,” Custer said. “It’s tirelessly building up our community so that it’s safe, stronger and thriving, and we can’t say thank you enough. We hope that our continued partnership will support each other as we continue to build a strong, thriving, healthy Jackson County.”

Cummins employee Candace Foist has helped organize the Clothesline Project for nine of the 10 years of its existence in Jackson County.

Whittney Loyd, president of Turning Point, said of the counties served by the organization, Jackson is the only one that still does the Clothesline Project.

“I can’t tell you how much that means to our staff and to our board and to the community here in Jackson County,” she said.

While it seems like a very basic thing to do, Loyd said the power behind the messaging and the reminder domestic violence is still such an issue locally and beyond is important.

“It’s not something that people like to talk about,” she said. “But the conversations are important, so to have that visual reminder here in this community is a valuable thing. It is a sad thing to do, it’s not necessarily a fun activity, but it’s an important one, and we’re grateful that Cummins continues to honor these individuals.”

The loss of people due to domestic violence over the past year hits home, and it’s happening in the counties Turning Point serves, Loyd said.

“They are not so far away anymore, so this is really critical, and we appreciate it. Thank you for keeping it going,” she said.

Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer and Chief Deputy Dustin Steward also attended the ceremony.

Meyer said he’s thankful the sheriff’s department has a great relationship with Turning Point where staff members come to the jail to speak to female inmates and educate them about domestic violence.

“But for the rest of us, it’s good for us to keep our eyes and ears open for the signs of domestic violence, whether you’re in the workplace or with friends out to eat or whatever, because a lot of the spouses don’t call on each other,” Meyer said. “We get a lot of calls from third parties. Maybe a friend of yours told you something, so they call us. If you see something, hear something, don’t be afraid to call because what you’re doing is saving somebody’s life.”

Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson also spoke, saying the Clothesline Project is an important reminder of the domestic violence issue.

Foist said the 100 shirts represent victims of domestic violence in Indiana, from children to adults.

Before shirts were placed on the clothesline along Fourth Street, Foist shared a story about a woman from northern Indiana who died as the result of domestic violence 13 years ago.

The woman in her early 30s was the mother of three children ages 8 to 13. She had been with a man since they were in high school, and the relationship was fine in the beginning. Then he became controlling and demanding and started selling drugs for a living.

Family members and others took notice of the change in him and knew there was violence in the relationship, even when the kids were around, but no one talked about it.

“When (the woman) was trying to get herself and kids away from the situation, she called the police several times for domestic violence and had a protective order filed against him,” Foist said. “In April 2010, a few days after expiration of the protective order, she was found lying dead in their yard by her daughter, beaten unrecognizable and shot when she tried to run.”

The kids moved out of state, and the woman’s boyfriend was found hiding in another state and has been in prison ever since.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 at 800-799-7233.

For information about Turning Point, visit Its 24-hour crisis helpline may be reached at 800-221-6311.