Clothesline Project Breaks Silence on Military Sexual Trauma - NBC 7 San Diego

Clothesline Project Breaks Silence on Military Sexual Trauma



    A program calls veterans and service members to break the silence about sexual trauma in the military . NBC 7's Military Reporter Bridget Naso explains how. (Published Monday, April 21, 2014)

    One out of five women and one out of 100 men have been a victim of sexual trauma in the military, according to Department of Veterans Affairs, and victims who are part of the "Clothesline Project" say it is time to take action to put it to a stop.

    To call attention to the issue, more than a 100 t-shirts with a message designed by survivors of sexual trauma are on display at the VA Medical Center in La Jolla.

    “It's breaking the silence because for many of us, we couldn't really say it while we were in the military,” said Purity Wanjohi, a peer-to-peer counselor for the program.

    It's part of therapy for veterans in the military sexual trauma and interpersonal trauma program at the VA.

    “It can help shed some of the shame some of the self-blame that a lot of survivors feel," said program director  Dr. Carolyn Allard. 

    Veteran Tracey Henderson, who came to hang his t-shirt, said while going to battle was tough, facing it is nothing compared to confronting sexual trauma.

    “We'd rather do that, than explain what happened to us,” said Henderson.

    This program also helps veterans move along the road to recovery -- as they like to say, "Take control of that bus," no matter how difficult the ride.

    “You can have these events that happen to you and these episodes that you go through but you don't have to stop the bus -you can reach your goals,” said Henderson.

    Organizers also say it is important to remember that military sexual trauma is also one of the leading causes of post-traumatic stress in the military.