July 29, 2014


In the late afternoon of August 14, residents of Des Moines will witness stories from survivors of sexual violence stitched together on 200 bright, red quilt squares. The Monument Quilt will be on display from 3pm to 8pm in Western Gateway Park. 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 12-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.

Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa, in collaboration with culturally specific organizations serving survivors/victims of sexual violence from the African, Asian Pacific Islander, Deaf, Latino, and LGBTQ communities organized to host the Monument Quilt stop as a continued effort to break the silence on sexual violence,” says Mira Yusef of Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa. “Many of our community members would not know where to go were it not for organizations and community groups that have made the space for stories to be told and believed. Given the silence, shame and stigma surrounding sexual violence, it is monumental risk to tell stories of sexual violence that we have survived, witnessed, or committed. The Monument Quilt’s stop in Des Moines is our continued work in creating spaces to break the silence, heal, and prevent sexual violence.”

“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, Des Moines 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 14 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.

Some of the stories sewn into the Monument Quilt belong to residents of Des Moines. In early July, Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa hosted a quilting workshop in partnership with other local organizations working to bring the display to Des Moines.

The Monument Quilt will be displayed in Des Moines in partnership with Deaf Iowans Against Abuse (DIAA),  Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault – Women of Color Advisory Network, Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer LUNA), Meskwaki, Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa, Nisaa African Women’s Project, and People of Color Queer Allies Trans.

Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa (MUAWI) serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Asian and Pacific Islander communities in all 99 counties of Iowa. Their two offices in Des Moines and Iowa City do collaborative service-providing and outreach work to seek an end to gender-based violence and build healthier communities. Nisaa: African Women’s Project is housed by MUAWI and is a direct service provider to survivors in African communities in Iowa.

Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer (LUNA) developed in 1999 as a holistic support provider for Latina survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It is their belief and mission to provide survivors with a full spectrum of services, acknowledging that recovery encompasses physical, emotional, and economic empowerment.

Deaf Iowans Against Abuse (DIAA) seeks to serve as a harbor for all Deaf, Deaf-blind, and Hard of Hearing people who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. The work of DIAA centers on providing access to education and services, including Rape Aggression Defense training, a crisis hotline, and sexual assault prevention curricula for students, as well as supporting survivors through medical and legal advocacy.

Meskwaki Family Services (MFS) seeks to support child and family well-being within the culture and community of the Meskwaki Indian Settlement. MFS connects Indian Child Welfare Services, financial skills programming, and a sexual assault response team, amongst other programs.

Women of Color Advisory Network (WOCAN) is a program of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault focused on providing culturally appropriate resources and support to people of color who have survived sexual assault. In addition to providing comprehensive support services, WOCAN coordinates violence prevention efforts across Iowa.

People of Color Queer Allies Trans (POCQAT) is a program of Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault that focuses on support for survivors outside the gender binary and/or who are non-heterosexual.

The Des Moines 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