First US national monument to survivors of sexual violence is haunting and powerful
On Friday (31 May), the Baltimore-based organization FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture unveiled the first ever national monument to survivors of sexual and domestic violence in the US.
The Monument Quilt made its full debut on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Over 3,000 stories of survivors and allies adorn pieces of square red fabric.
When the pieces are put together, the monument reads ‘You Are Not Alone’ in both English and Spanish.
Organizers traveled to 49 states and 33 cities in both the US and Mexico gathering people’s stories. They worked for the past six years constructing the monument for its debut.
‘DC has many monuments, but not one for survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence,’ Lorena Kourousias told the Huffington Post. ‘By blanketing the National Mall, we are asking for space for survivors to heal.’
People gathered on the National Mall today to construct the monument.
— Natalie Crofts (@njcrofts) May 31, 2019
— Jess Myers (@jess3myers) May 31, 2019
— David W. Congdon (@dwcongdon) May 31, 2019
Powerful stories and voices
The words of the monument are raw, powerful, heartbreaking, and empowering. They consist of people’s personal stories, allies standing with victims, and messages of love and empowerment.
Below are some of the quilt’s patches. Some sent messages to women of color and the disproportionately high rates of violence they face.
This one reads: ‘Black women have the right to defend themselves.’
Another one highlights First Nation and other indigenous women, who face murder rates more than 10 times the national average.
Others called out the harmful culture of victim blaming.
One specifically highlighted the reality that female victims especially are asked what they were wearing when they were attacked. The patch reads: ‘Nobody asks what my rapist was wearing.’
Another called out the danger of complicity, reading: ‘Supporting an abuser is supporting the abuse.’
Several others show empowering messages of support, both from allies and victims themselves.
‘If your partner is violent, don’t be silent,’ one reads. ‘We care, we’re here, we believe.’
This one reads ‘not your fault’ in Spanish.
Another sends a pleading message to stop the violence. It depicts people of all genders and races, who can all be victims of sexual and domestic violence.
Another powerful one states: ‘Generations of women in silence. Until now.’
The Monument Quilt will be on display from 31 May to 2 June.
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Author: Anya Crittenton