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Every Tee Shirt Tells a Painful Story at TCC

Tom Flanigan

Students at Tallahassee Community College have a very visible way to raise awareness about sexual abuse and domestic violence this week. They've hung hundreds of message-bearing tee shirts in the middle of campus.

Anyone who thinks abuse is a rare occurrence among college students should talk to TCC Assistant English Professor Dr. Kelly Thayer.

"Every semester, at least 5 or 6 female students confide to me that they were sexually assaulted," she said.

Thayer explained it was the students' idea to make their campus part of the national clothesline project. Each tee shirt carries a message from a student, like Denicia Brown who notes those who experience abuse are often accused of somehow bringing it on themselves.

"It's not their fault," she insisted firmly. "That's victim-blaming. We're not victim blamers; we're survivors!"

Student Christian Villas noted males can be victims of violence as well as perpetrators.

"I don't believe it's all a women thing," he said. "There are a lot of guys who are also domestically abused."

TCC's clothesline and its 100s of shirts will remain up the rest of the week.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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