The Monument Quilt, a growing collection of more than 2,000 stiched stories from sexual-assault survivors, was displayed on Arizona State University’s main campus Friday.
The quilt was presented on the Tempe campus as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato are co-founders and directors of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, which started the quilt project in 2013 to provide a space where survivors are publicly supported and not shamed.
The organization said rates of sexual assault on college campuses are at a “crisis level” across the nation. One in five women experiences sexual violence in college, the organization said in a press release.
We want “to create a space for survivors to reconnect to community and see public support from their community, as well as to resist a singular narrative about sexual and domestic violence,” Brancato told The Republic.
“A lot of times when sexual assault is talked about in the media… they’re (about) a white, cisgendered woman and the stories that are often erased from that narrative are stories from LGBT folks, people of color, and all of these groups experience higher rates for different reasons,” she added.
The survivor stories and messages of support, which are written, painted and stitched onto red fabric as part of the quilt, have been displayed 30 times in 26 cities across the nation. The quilt’s national tour will end April 29 at the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to highlight how U.S. immigration policies create high rates of sexual assault and domestic violence against undocumented immigrants, the organizers said.
The quilts will be laid out on April 29 on both sides of the border to spell out “not alone.” The organization is inviting people from all over the country to participate in its National Day of Action by making quilts of their own or hosting workshops for people to make some and then sending it to be added to the Monument Quilt.
Coalition, tribes helped bring quilt to Arizona
The Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, a statewide tribal domestic-violence and sexual-assault coalition, collaborated with numerous American Indian tribes to help bring the quilt to Arizona and raise awareness of sexual violence in the tribal community.
“The quilt is so powerful in honoring the memory of victims,” said Leanne Guy, director of the coalition. “It definitely captures the soul and heart of what we’re trying to do. When you read some of the messages on the quilt it’s hard not to have your heart overwhelmed because we live in a society where rape culture is really evident and normalized.”
Native American women experience higher rates of sexual assault and domestic violence than any other ethnic group in the country, according to a press release issued by the Monument Quilt project.
Four in five Native women will experience violence in her lifetime; one in three are raped, abused or stalked every year; and nine in 10 of the perpetrators are non-Native, the release said. The organization linked these statistics to a 1978 Supreme Court decision through which tribal nations are prohibited from prosecuting non-Indian perpetrators who commit sexual violence on their lands.
Guy said that is one reason many sexual-assault cases within the Indian communities are not reported and the perpetrators continue to walk free.
Brancato said she and Nagle want to honor the victims of sexual and domestic violence through the quilt, much like veterans have monuments and memorials in their honor that help them heal from the trauma of war.
Nagle believes the space that the quilt creates is unique because many survivors have come forward for the first time as a result of their project.
“It’s the first time they felt safe to talk about their experiences in public or been in a public space that was designed for their support,” Nagle said.
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