The walls at the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office look a little different this month as more than 30 T-shirts have been hung from the walls as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The T-shirts hang on a clothesline, each one representing one victim of domestic violence from 2020 in Delaware County, according to Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel.
The project, she added, is part of a national program to raise awareness of domestic violence. As for hanging T-shirts from a clothesline, Schiffel got the idea from Turning Point, which operates the local domestic violence shelter.
“We knew the awareness campaign had to look different because of COVID,” Schiffel said. “I thought, ‘Man, how impactful would that be to see shirts in our office representing just the cases and victims we’ve had this year alone.’”
The office now has more than 33 T-shirts, each signifying a different victim and representing demographic information about them.
“We have real people in these cases who come from many different walks of life,” Schiffel said. “By looking at it you can see we have men who are victims, pets who are impacted, pregnant victims, transgender victims of domestic violence, and I think that’s what’s so impactful about the clothesline because you can look at it and see how many different walks of life are affected by domestic violence.”
Schiffel added the T-shirts nearly stretch around most of the office, and the scale of the project can be emotionally overwhelming.
“When I saw the completed project I got choked up,” she said. “It goes around our entire office. The volume of it … made me stop in my tracks. I’m so thrilled with the work we do in the office, specifically with domestic violence. It’s not lost on people, but I just want to … continue to highlight the fact that the good work we do affects people. This whole T-shirt thing helps us not lose sight that with every case we have there’s a victim and an opportunity to help them and impact our community, even during this pandemic.”
Schiffel said there are even more cases than those represented on the wall, because her office also helps victims get protection orders. She is hopefully projects like the one currently on display in her office will inspire people to speak out if they see or experience domestic violence.
“(The project) doesn’t represent every victim we’ve helped, but it’s still impactful to see that number,” Schiffel said. “Domestic violence is blind to age, race, gender and socio-economic status. Within our community, we have to be vigilant for ourselves, our family and our friends, and make sure everyone knows the resources are available so if someone comes to them, they know who to call. That boils down to listening … and believing them.”
Schiffel said people seeking more information can start by calling the prosecutor’s office, which will connect them to the most appropriate resource.
More information about the prosecutor’s office can be found at http://www.co.delaware.oh.us/prosecutor or by calling 740-833-2690.