Giant, fabric monument to rape survivors is met with popular support in US tour
Today a massive demonstration of public support for survivors of rape and abuse takes place in downtown Baton Rouge. The demonstration, organized by survivor-led art and advocacy group Force, is the third stop of a 13-city US tour of the Monument Quilt. The 100 x 100 foot fabric monument to survivors has so far captured the attention of city residents, garnered popular support and created public healing space for survivors.
In Birmingham this past Sunday, the display stopped traffic. “I was driving when I saw the words ‘NOT ALONE’. I had to pull over because it was so powerful,” said Meg McGalmery from Crisis Center, Inc, a community partner of the quilt.
So far, The Monument Quilt has been seen by over 800 visitors. While the US congress debates how to respond to campus sexual assault, communities from South Dakota to New York City are coming together to show public support for survivors. By the end of the tour, an estimated 4,000 US residents will have witnessed the quilt and the 225 stories contained within.
Traveling as part of the Force team are co-founders Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato, healer-in-residence Shameeka Dream, and documentarian David Sloan. Dream is a healing artist who has been involved in the Monument Quilt since to the first-ever workshop at the Spiritual Empowerment Center in Baltimore, MD in August 2013 and is holding healing space at each display.
“After my incident of abuse, I literally sat in the hospital and thought this happened to me because I was meant to speak about it publically,” says Dream. “I am part of the Monument Quilt because this is my life work. As a healer, I want to see healing happen more in public space. So that healing can be as common as walking down the street.”
“Its an intense journey.” says Nagle. “We are carrying the weight of the quilts, both literally and symbolically. As a survivor myself, at times the weight can feel like too much. At the same time, however, I feel greatly uplifted through the community and individual transformations I see happening with every quilt display. I can’t change what happened to me, but I can change the culture that created the circumstance of my abuse.”
How it the public reacting to the quilt so far?
“The quilt has not been met with hostility, ignorance or anger. It shows, that when given the opportunity, our country is ready to support survivors,” says Brancato.
US residents are also showing their support of The Monument Quilt and survivors of social media. At noon on Tuesday Aug 12 over 400 supporters tweeted and shared the message:
“I want this country to publicly support rape survivors, not publicly shame them. #MonumentQuilt Tour #NotAlone”