July 29, 2014


In the early evening of August 18, residents of the Fox Valley 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 7pm at Opera House Square in downtown Oshkosh. In the event that it rains, the display will be held in Kolf Fieldhouse on the campus of University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. 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.

“Our community is not whole without all of the people that make it up, and as part of our community, if survivors are hurting then the community itself is fractured,” says Maria Bady, Event Coordinator for the Oshkosh display. “We are grateful that the Monument Quilt will give us a chance to publicly support our survivors so that they, individually, and we, the community, can start to become whole.”

“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, the Fox Valley is not only part of this national conversation, but 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 18 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.  In the US, 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 breast cancer.

This tour stop will mark the second occasion that Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato have visited the Fox Valley Cities. At a workshop last October, the duo behind Force spoke to more than 150 students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to address rape culture and how to promote a culture of consent.

As reported in the Advance-Titan, the student newspaper of the University, Hannah Brancato stated at the workshop: “There are a lot of mythologies in our culture about…what rape should be defined by, about different definitions of what rape is. It’s stuff that’s structurally embedded in our society legally, but is also something we see every day.”

Even under the Wisconsin Statutes, there are arbitrary legal definitions of what sexual violence is and how justice should be served. For example, when sexual assault has serious physical repercussions, it can amount to a first-degree felony. But when “sexual contact without consent” causes no such injury, it is treated only as a misdemeanor.

According to the Advance-Titan, student organizations have held forums to examine how the Wisconsin State Administrative Code addresses sexual assault survivors, and how they can petition for change. The Monument Quilt will visit Oshkosh as the national movement to end campus sexual assault builds momentum.

Partners for the display include Reach Counseling Services and the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Women’s Center. Founded in the 1970s, Reach is dedicated to the prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence, and offers medical, legal, and personal support to survivors and their families. A certified outpatient mental health clinic, Reach serves the Wisconsin counties of Winnebago, Outagamie, and Calumet, where it has provided services for thousands of survivors, and has educated tens of thousands of children and adults.

Located on the Oshkosh campus, the Women’s Center is a locus for women to connect, serve, and lead. It provides resources and education on campus, and offers diverse programming to support and engage students, faculty, staff, and the greater Oshkosh community.

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 themonumentquilt.org.  If you are interested in volunteering at a quilt display, email upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com.