SAN MARCOS (KXAN) — A decade of silence, followed by a decade of finding her voice and using it to help others: a Marine Corps veteran living in San Marcos found healing by turning a piece of her old uniform into artwork.
Regina Vasquez told us she joined the Marines in 1998, just days after her 19th birthday.
Right away, she said, “I experienced a lot of gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and of course, I experienced rape.”
She said she had to keep quiet because “They told me that there was plenty of treeline to hide my body.”
More than 10 years later, she found some comfort and courage when she discovered Clothesline Project, which is a display of t-shirts made by survivors of violence.
Vasquez used her Marine Corps blouse. She turned it inside out and told her story.
“I mean you look at us in the uniform. The whole nation’s proud of us. Wow. So much honor. So much bravado. Courage. To do what we did. But nobody knew what was inside, what we experienced,” she explained.
That inspired Vasquez to launch Fatigues Clothesline, and now hers and many other survivors’ art is on display at a museum in Germany.
She hopes displays like this will let other survivors know they are not alone.
“Don’t back down. Don’t lose your ground. Keep on standing up straight. Keep your chin up. And keep telling your story,” she said.