On Monday August 18, residents of Fox Valley traveled to the Kolf Fieldhouse on the UW-Oshkosh campus to show public support for survivors of rape and abuse. Spread across the arena floor were 200 bright, red quilt squares, emblazoned with survivors’ stories. The Monument Quilt aims to change US culture from a culture that publicly shames survivors to a culture that publicly support survivors. The Oshkosh display was coordinated by REACH Counseling and the University of Oshkosh Women’s Center.
“Something I took away from today is the enormity of the project,” said Stephanie Kitzerow, volunteer with REACH counseling services. “Visualizing and seeing all the people who have been impacted by the trauma they have gone through in their life. Its very emotional to see and to experience.”
“I am so grateful to have the quilt come to my community and that we can have this public space for survivors,” said Marianne Radley of REACH Counseling.
Geneva Murphy, Director of the UW Oshkosh Women’s Center said this about the quilt coming to Oshkosh: “UW Oshkosh Women’s Center has consistently dedicated itself to providing programming to end rape culture. Throughout the 2014-2015 school year, there will be a number of a events that follow the Monument Quilt to continue to assist in aiding a conversation that supports rape survivors and victims.”
One visitor stated, “I couldn’t be happier with coming here. The support, the love, the peace. What a gift. I am swollen with gratitude.”
During the display visitors wrote their own reflections. One visitor wrote, “I no longer have to be that little girl who is scared of what he will do. I may still cry for what he has done, but today I know it’s not my fault. He no longer has power over me. Thank you God for making me see I have control over what happens to me.”
Each quilt is completely different, like each individual experience with sexual violence.
One survivor wrote, “It was men who taught me that assault only happens to women, robbing me of the language I needed to name and process my experience.”
Sewn onto one quilt square are the shorts and t-shirt the survivor was wearing at the time of their assault. The square simply states, “STRONG”.
People who are interested in adding their own quilt square to the project can find instructions here.
The Oshkosh display was the seventh stop on a 13-city US tour. The Monument quilt will continue traveling this month to visit Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Durham, NC; Baltimore, MD; and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.
The 100 x 100 foot quilt displayed in Quapaw Wednesday is only the beginning. Over the next two years, 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.”