Senators Blumenthal and Murphy To Speak At First Ever Monument To Survivors Of Rape and Abuse

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Connecticut Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy will speak Tuesday at the first-ever public monument to survivors of rape and abuse.  On students’ first day of fall semester, members of the Wesleyan University community will witness stories from survivors of sexual violence stitched together on 250 bright, red quilt squares.  The giant, touring Monument Quilt will be on display from 3 to 7pm on Sept 2 on Wesleyan’s Foss Hill.  The quilt is an on-going project aimed to create public healing space for survivors.  The event underscores the urgent need to support survivors of campus sexual assault across the US.

Sen. Murphy and Sen. Blumenthal are visiting Wesleyan and The Monument Quilt in the middle of a national debate on campus sexual assault legislation.  Sen. Blumenthal is part of a bipartisan group spearheading the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. If passed, the bill would require campuses to provide a confidential advocate for survivors, training for campus personnel, and change federal penalties for schools that do not report assaults in compliance with the Clery Act.

“Campus sexual assault is staggeringly prevalent and stunningly underreported. Assault-free campuses must be the new norm,” said Sen Richard Blumenthal about the importance of the new legislation.

Last spring, in response to a lawsuit filed against a fraternity by a rape survivor, a graduating Wesleyan University senior created a rap claiming that the real victims of the controversy were fraternity brothers. The viral rap, along with other instances of backlash against the suit, created a hostile campus climate for rape survivors.

“Starting the year off with The Monument Quilt is intensely more productive than how the last year ended, a tone of support and affirmation rather than defensiveness and challenges,” says Wesleyan student Yael Horowitz.

“Rape culture might occupy a physical and psychological space on our campus, but so does this network of support [for survivors], so does this quilt,” says Wesleyan student Tess Altman.

“The worst disservice that can be done to survivors is maintaining silence. The Monument Quilt’s importance lies not only in the space it creates for survivors to heal, but in the powerful, and very tangible, message that it sends to our community. It shatters the burden of a silence that should never lie upon the shoulders of survivors,” says Wesleyan student Alton Wang.

The demonstration at Wesleyan, organized by survivor-led art and advocacy group Force in collaboration with campus activists, is the last stop of a 13-city US tour of the Monument Quilt. The public monument to rape survivors has been witnessed this month from Queens, NY to White River, SD to garner widespread public support before heading to Wesleyan.

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THE #MONUMENTQUILT TOUR IN THE NEWS!

The #MonumentQuilt Tour has been garnering public support and getting the attention of press outlets across the country.  Read what people are saying in…

FAST COMPANY
HUFFINGTON POST
BUST
COSMOPOLITAN
AUTOSTRADDLE
THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
THE PITTSBURGH GAZETTE


Read local coverage from Birmingham…
AL.com
ABC 33/40
NBC 13
Times Union

From Baton Rouge…
225 Magazine: Stories of Survival 
89.3 WRKF: Baton Rouge Hosts The Monument Quilt
89.9  WWNO: Baton Rouge Hosts The Monument Quilt
The Advocate: Quilting a stand against sexual violence
Times-Picayune/NOLA.com: Monument Quilt displayed in Town Square to bring awareness to sexual trauma, victims
WAFB: Monument quilt provides public healing space for sexual violence survivors
WBRZ 2uneIn: Monument Quilt in BR

From Quapaw…
Channel KODE
News Talks KZRG
Joplin Globe
News 9

From Des Moines…
Radio Iowa
Des Moines Register

Monument to Rape Survivors Blankets Downtown Baton Rouge
​FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 13, 2014

Contact

Rebecca Nagle
upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com
443 722 0929

themonumentquilt.org

upsettingrapeculture.com

Monument to Rape Survivors Blankets Downtown Baton Rouge

Yesterday, roughly 250 visitors witnessed stories from survivors of rape and abuse emblazoned on 200 bright red quilt squares. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, the quilts blanketed the entire North Boulevard Town Square in downtown Baton Rouge. The Monument Quilt, is an on-going project to create public healing space by and for survivors. The quilt was brought to Birmingham by Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response and The Women’s Center at LSU.

“I am hopeful that today will be the beginning of community conversations about creating safe and public spaces where survivors can express themselves and experience community support,” said Summer Steib, LSU Women’s Center.

“The quilt has reassured me that I am not alone, that healing is an ongoing process, and that I will survive,” said a visitor to Tuesday’s display. “I built relationships that I am sure will never be broken.”

In April, STAR hosted a quilt-making workshop. Participants from the April workshop attended Tuesday’s event to see their quilt squares on display. Others added their own quilt squares at a craft table facilitated by the Elevators Project. One story read, “I no longer have to be that little girl who is scared of what he will do. I may still cry for what he has done, but today I know it’s not my fault. He no longer has power over me. Thank you God for making me see I have control over what happens to me.”

“Witnessing the quilt was very emotional and I would love to find a way to keep a permanent memorial in our community to support survivors,” said Raina Wirta, Executive Director of Elevators Project

During a speech at the display, Force co-director Rebecca Nagle, a survivors herself, stated, “I am not broken by that experience, but I realize what is broken and that is the culture in the country that I live in.”

The Baton Rouge display was the third stop on a 13-city US tour. The Monument quilt will continue traveling this month to visit Quapaw, OK; Des Moines, IA; White River, SD; Fox Valley, WI; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.


Each quilt is completely different, like each individual experience with sexual violence.

One survivor wrote, “It was men who taught me that assault only happens to women, robbing me of the language I needed to name and process my experience.”

Sewn onto one quilt square are the shorts and t-shirt the survivor was wearing at the time of their assault. The square simply states, “STRONG”.

People who are interested in adding their own quilt square to the project can find instructions here.

The 100 x 100 foot quilt displayed in Birmingham this past Sunday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more stories will be added to The Monument Quilt. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the National Mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE.”

Photo by Jennifer Craft

Photo by Erin Arledge

Photo by Jennifer Craft
Photo by Erin Arledge

Photo by Erin Arledge

Photo by Jennifer Craft

Photo by Jennifer Craft

Photo by Jennifer Craft

Photo by Erin Arledge

Photo by Jennifer Craft

I want this country to publicly support rape survivors, not publicly shame them. #MonumentQuilt Tour #NotAlone http://thndr.it/1pVOuj0

I want this country to publicly support rape survivors, not publicly shame them. #MonumentQuilt Tour #NotAlone http://thndr.it/1pVOuj0

Monument to Rape Survivors Blankets Rushton Park

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2014

Contact

Rebecca Nagle
upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com
443 722 0929

themonumentquilt.org

upsettingrapeculture.com

Monument to Rape Survivors Blankets Rushton Park

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Yesterday, roughly 200 visitors witnessed stories from survivors of rape and abuse emblazoned on 200 bright red quilt squares.  On a warm Sunday afternoon, the quilts blanketed the entire hillside of Rushton Park. Those who passed by the park could read the message “NOT ALONE” in giant red letters. The Monument Quilt, is an on-going project to create public healing space by and for survivors.  In Birmingham this weekend, the quilt created a 100 x 100 foot sanctuary for survivors to share their stories, be heard and heal.  The quilt was brought to Birmingham by The Rape Response Program at Crisis Center, Inc.

“I think it stops most people in their tracks,” said one visitor.

“I was driving and saw the NOT ALONE at the top of the hill. I had to pull the car over because it was so powerful,” said Meg McGalmery of Crisis Center, Inc.

“By stitching our stories together, we are creating and demanding public space to heal,” says Rebecca Nagle, co-director of Force, the group behind the quilt. “The Monument Quilt is a platform to not only tell our stories, but work together to forever change how the US responds to rape. We are creating a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”

“It was a journey, traveling through everyone’s story,” said one visitor. “I felt their bravery, the bravery of putting feelings into words.  Finding the words to tell your story: thats the hardest part of being a survivor.”

“We were so excited to have The Monument Quilt in Birmingham!” said Aryn Gieger, Rape Response Program Coordinator at Crisis Center, Inc. “Being able to provide safe public spaces for survivors is crucial to starting community conversations about sexual violence. Without starting those conversations, we will never be able to change a culture that excuses rape and shames survivors.”

The Birmingham display was the second stop of a 13-city US tour.  The Monument quilt will continue traveling this month to visit Baton Rouge, LA; Quapaw, OK; Des Moines, IA; White River, SD; Fox Valley, WI; Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

Visitors to Sunday’s display were greeted by volunteers, offered snacks and handed postcards with self-care tips to take home. A border around the installation reminded visitors to “breathe” and “its OK to cry, to talk, to leave, to be still.”   

“The quilt airs out emotions that are usually confined to private spaces,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director. “The trauma of sexual violence in the United States affects everyone.  And we need spaces where communities can begin to heal and become more whole.”

Each quilt is completely different, like each individual experience with sexual violence. Some quilts contain detailed stories.  Some quilts contain parts of stories.  Others contain messages of support or statements about sexual violence.  Some squares contain no written language but are rather a landscape of an emotion.

One survivor wrote, “It was men who taught me that assault only happens to women, robbing me of the language I needed to name and process my experience.”

One survivor wrote, “Please don’t tell me it didn’t happen or that I should be over it by now.”

And one quilt told their story through a bible verse: “‘They are extinguished.  I am about to do a new thing.’ Isaiah 43:19.”

People who are interested in adding their own quilt square to the project can find instructions here.

The 100 x 100 foot quilt displayed in Birmingham this past Sunday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more stories will be added to The Monument Quilt. In a final display, The Monument Quilt will blanket over one mile of the National Mall with thousands of quilt squares to spell “NOT ALONE.”

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