Monument to Rape Survivors Blankets Downtown Baton Rouge
“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.”