Today, FORCE released instructions for survivors of rape and abuse on how to make a submit a quilt square to be part of the historic Monument Quilt. The Monument Quilt is a crowd-sourced collection of thousands of stories from survivors of rape and abuse.
FORCE says, “By making a square, your voice will join thousands of others to create public space where survivors are honored & supported rather than silenced & shamed.”
Along with the online and printable instructions, FORCE released how-to videos for making a quilt square. The videos emphasize that there are multiple ways to make a square, with demos for spray painting on a bed sheet (without sewing a stitch!) and piecing together a patchwork quilt. All the content can be found online at themonumentquilt.org/makeasquare.
FORCE says, “By stitching our stories together, survivors are creating and demanding public space to heal. The Monument Quilt is an organizing ground for people who have long been silenced, isolated and disempowered. Through the scale of this historic project, we can feel our collective strength.”
Sections of the historic Monument Quilt will be witnessed across the United States through quilt making workshops, a tour, and a historic display in our nation’s capitol. Blanketing over one mile of the National Mall, thousands of fabric squares will be assembled together to spell “NOT ALONE.” The Monument Quilt gives churches, schools, towns and our country clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when often, people don’t know where to start. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.
For many, the first step in the process of healing is the telling of what happened. The Monument Quilt creates the space for survivors to speak their truth.
An anonymous quilt maker remarked, “While I have long believed in the power of this action, yesterday, when I finally went to a workshop and actually made my own quilt, the emotional experience was completely beyond what I could have imagined. I really felt lifted afterwards, like a weight was literally, finally, taken off of me. And even more than finally finding the words that I have needed to say, knowing that they are and will be witnessed gives them a solidity and strength that could never be achieved otherwise.”
Last year when a high school student in Maryville, MO was raped by her classmate and pressed charges, her community responded by burning her house to the ground. In America, we know how to publicly shame survivors. We don’t know how to publicly support them. What if instead of tearing communities apart, rape was a trauma and a tragedy that brought communities together? What if the individual who experiences the tragedy of rape also experiences support from their communities?
“We are creating a public process of uncovering sexual assault and a community-driven response that aids in the healing process. The Monument Quilt will forever change how the American public responds to survivors of sexual violence,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director.
Brancato goes on to say, “In creating space for survivors to come together, the Monument Quilt is also creating space for survivors to be radically different. Part of America’s rape culture is a monolithic and inaccurate narrative of how sexual violence happens and who it happens to. Sexual violence is not primarily perpetrated by strangers. Sexual violence is not only experienced by women. Sexual violence is not only experienced by white people. Americans experience violence, recovery, justice and access very differently based on sexual orientation, race, gender, class, citizenship and ability. By bringing together thousands of survivors’ stories the Monument Quilt creates a highly visible representation of sexual violence that is made up of many stories, not just one.”