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CEI holds an exhibit to spread awareness of domestic violence and sexual abuse

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The College of Eastern Idaho is holding a special exhibit addressing the issue of violence against women.

The Clothesline Project gives a voice to survivors and the families of those killed by an intimate partner, explains Julie Thompson, a special populations counselor at the Center for New Directions at CEI.

"What I love about what we're doing is we're creating a safe place for people to come to tell their stories," Thompson said. "And people don't feel alone. You know, again, because there's so much so many factors that create isolation around these stories. And so when people can walk around and read these messages, they suddenly realize they are part of a very special tribe. And the courage that it takes to be here and to participate is just incredibly moving."

Former CEI student Melissa Sudweeks brought up the idea of doing the exhibit in 2019, but due to COVID-19, it had to be delayed. Sudweeks says the event shines a light on a dark subject.

"Because the abuse hides in the shadows," Sudweeks said. "And so being able to bring light to the abuse and bring light to those survivors gives them a place to be safe and be supported. So it's important to make sure that we're talking about it and that we're letting them know that they're heard."

Heard, and not alone.

Thompson says the pandemic say an increase in cases.

"COVID actually brought an increase in domestic violence and overall, you know, what we continue to see are the numbers continue to go up," Thompson said. "And so we just need to do something different. We need to do better. And that's a part of what we're trying to do. We want to contribute to a solution. We want to do something different that makes a difference."

The exhibit goes until Thursday at 2 p.m, in the CEI cafeteria.

"People can come in, we have a separate room where people can create their own T-shirts. We have resource information. We have counselors on site because this can be really triggering for people," Thompson said.

This is the first year they've held the event, and Thompson says it won't be the last.

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Rachel Fabbi

Rachel Fabbi is a reporter, anchor and producer for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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