July 29, 2014


In the afternoon of August 19, residents of Chicago will witness stories from survivors of sexual violence stitched together on 200 bright, red quilt squares. The Monument Quilt will be on display from 1pm to 5pm on Daley Plaza. Larger than two basketball courts put together, the quilt is traveling the United States this summer as part of an ongoing project to create public healing space for survivors of rape and abuse. During a twelve-city tour, The Monument Quilt will be displayed at public parks, town squares, college campuses and high school football fields from White River, SD to Queens, NY.

“Survivors who seek Rape Victim Advocates’ services often share how painful and traumatic it is to not be believed or supported by their friends, family, police, or others,” says Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Director of Rape Victim Advocates (RVA). “For many, RVA is the first space they’ve felt respected and safe. Hosting the Monument Quilt in Chicago is a way for us to create that sense of support in a much more public way, and a step towards creating the compassionate community that survivors need and deserve.

“This summer’s tour will create a national conversation about supporting survivors of rape and abuse,” says Rebecca Nagle, co-director of Force, the group behind the quilt project. “We are honored that through local organizations and activists, Chicago is not only part of this national conversation, but also is leading it. Together we will create a culture where survivors are publicly supported rather than publicly shamed.”

At the display, attendees will witness survivors’ stories, demonstrate public support, and transform their local response to rape. Participants will be able to write their own reflections, hear speeches and join in community. Survivors and allies who wish to add a square to the in-progress quilt can make one following these instructions. Squares brought on August 19 will be added to the display.

The Monument Quilt provides clear and accessible steps to support survivors of rape and abuse when, often, people don’t know where to begin. Through public recognition, the quilt reconnects survivors to their community.

Sexual violence in the United States is nothing short of an epidemic. 1 in 3 women, 1 in 3 trans* people and 1 in 6 men will be raped or abused in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely to experience rape as they are breast cancer.

“The Monument Quilt project exemplifies a bold statement that legislative defeats will not hinder the continuous movement for Survivors,” says Adrienne Spires ofRape Advocacy, Counseling & Education Services.

A highly visible civic center considered to be among the architectural gems of Chicago, the display location of Daley Plaza is symbolic, demonstrating that the city is committed to publicly supporting survivors of rape and abuse. Home to several permanent war memorials, the Chicago landmark will similarly honor those who have been affected by sexual violence.

A tent designated as a safe space for women of color will also be set up on Daley Plaza with the Monument Quilt display. People experience violence, recovery, justice and access very differently based on race, as well as gender, sexual orientation, class, citizenship and ability. As Kalima Young, a Doctoral Student and Instructor at University of Maryland and Baltimore-based collaborator states, “In a public project such as the Monument Quilt, there is a deep need to create safe space to acknowledge and discuss the impact of historical and present-day race and gender-based trauma on female-bodied persons of color. Sexual trauma is complicated by racism and white supremacy and by creating an opportunity for female-bodied persons of color to discuss their unique histories around survivorship, we can hopefully begin to heal and organize in inclusive and affirming ways.”

The Monument Quilt will be displayed in Chicago in partnership with Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Project&, Project NIA, Rape Advocacy, Counseling & Education Services, and Rape Victim Advocates.

Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) provides both direct services through emergency room survivor advocacy and counseling as well as legal advocacy on a larger scale. In connection with other Chicago-area survivor support organizations, RVA helps staff a Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline. The organization is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion was formed in 1973 to empower the growing Latina population of Chicago. Today, Mujeres is the longest-standing Latina organization in the nation and focuses on gender-based violence intervention and prevention and promoting advocacy and engagement in the Latino community. Mujeres’ programs include the relationships between parents and their children, Latina entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and health. Mujeres also supports survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through the 24/7 Chicago Rape Crisis hotline, legal services, counseling, and assistance with childcare.

Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services (RACES) is a community rape crisis center serving Champaign, Douglas, Ford, and Piatt Counties in East-Central Illinois. Originally formed as a feminist coalition in the 1970s, their spectrum of services has expanded to encompass a crisis hotline, medical and legal advocacy, counseling, and public education and training for a broad range of interested audiences. RACES seeks to counter norms of rape culture through its advocacy and to empower survivors of sexual violence in order to counter oppression in the world at large.

Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) is a network of 29 sexual assault crisis centers and 27 satellite offices that provide direct services to survivors in the forms of crisis intervention, counseling, and advocacy as well as through educational trainings for schools, law enforcement, hospitals, and civic groups. The network system of ICASA links survivors across Illinois with services in their time of need and provides a comprehensive access point for individuals in every facet of sexual violence work.

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women is focused on two central goals, drawing attention and awareness to issues of sexual violence and building public and political will to counter a culture of violence against women. The scope of the Taskforce’s work is violence against youth broadly, with emphasis on the categories of sexual violence, reproductive justice, and teen dating violence. The Taskforce uses data collection to analyze, identify, and recommend responses to issues of violence affecting young women and girls in the Chicago area.

Project NIA is a grassroots organization that takes an alternative approach to conceptualizing and creating justice in communities through a model of participatory justice. Their emphasis is on reducing recidivism and inspiring community healing through this model, and seeks to reduce the excessive criminalization of youth that contributes to a culture of punishment rather than one of rehabilitation.

This display is part of a twelve-city tour set to begin this August. The Monument Quilt will visit Arden, NC; Birmingham, AL; 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.

The 100 x 100 foot quilt that will be witnessed this summer is only the beginning. Over the next two years, more and 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.”

For those interested in shaping this nation-wide community art project, there are many different ways to get involved. Survivors and allies can make their own quilt square. People across the country are invited to host quilt-making workshops in their school, community center, place of worship, or town. You can also volunteer time or donate money to help make this vision a reality. All the different ways to engage, resources for survivors, information about upcoming events, and more can be found at  If you are interested in volunteering at a quilt display, email