“When a rape occurs it’s almost like killing a significate part of a human being,” Cumberland County Chief District Court Judge Robert J. Stiehl III said at the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade Clothesline Project: Shaping A Culture of Trust on Friday at the 525 MI Bde. Lightning Memorial Field.
“Only in a homicide you are brought to the justice gate, but for rape victims they have to go on living days, months and years never, ever getting back to the point prior — before that act,” Stiehl said.
The Clothesline Project targets violence related to sexual orientation, and victims who have died as a result of sexual violence. The words of survivors and their supporters are displayed on t-shirts that they have created and pinned on a clothes line.
The project is an event honoring the experiences of survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or child sexual abuse.
This is a national awareness initiative started by a group of women in the 1990s who wanted to give survivors and their friends and Family members a voice about their abuse.
The purpose of the t-shirts is to send messages of support and encouragement to victims of sexual assault and to promote non-violence.
Stiehl, who has been a judge since 1994, is associated with many organizations, including the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. He spoke to the audience about the statistics of assault and rape, but also shed light on experiences he has seen as a judge. He talked about impact that sexual assault can have on victims and the Army as a whole.
“Victims don’t want your tears, they don’t want your sympathy, they want your commitment and follow through and to do what they were promised when it happened — and that is that justice gets served,” Stiehl said.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many campaigns and events are scheduled this month on Fort Bragg to bring awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence.
525th Military Intelligence Brigade Spc. Wesley Constandse attended the event and took the time to fill out a shirt to pin on the clothing line.
“I wrote on a shirt ‘lifelong impact,’” said Constandse. “I know some people who have been sexually assaulted earlier in their lives, and it still impacts them on a weekly and daily basis. So it’s to bring awareness that it’s not just a one-time thing, a couple months or a couple of years thing. It’s long-lasting and has a lifelong impact that individual will carry with them for the rest of their life.”
Shirts are color coded to highlight different types of violence:
White represents women who died because of violence.
Yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women.
Red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault.
Blue and green t-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse.
Purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation.
Black is for women attacked for political reasons.
After the end of the event, Judge Stiehl pinned up a pink shirt on the clothing line that said, “4 you, 4 them and 4 all,” on the front. The shirt hung next to other shirts displaying encouraging words to victims.
According to the Army, sexual harassment and sexual assault affect Soldiers and unit readiness by undermining the strength of our Army and fundamentally go against the Warrior Ethos, NCO Creed, Army Civilian Corps Creed, and the Army Values.
For information on more events for Sexual Assault Awareness month visit www.Facebook.com/FortbraggNC.