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Monument Quilt tells rape survivors’ stories, brings awareness to abuse

10/4/2013, 6 a.m.
On Sunday, September 29, 2013, the historic Monument Quilt was displayed in the center plaza at Penn Station in Baltimore. The quilt tells the experiences of rape and abuse survivors through pictures and words. Teresa Keil

— In the bright afternoon sun on Sunday, September 29, 2013, one hundred bright red quilts were displayed in the center plaza at Baltimore's Penn Station. Each quilt told the story of a survivor of rape and abuse or shared a message of support.

For five hours a sea of red fabric changed the stark concrete landscape and created a highly visible space to honor the experiences of survivors.

Visitors were able to interact with the quilts, read survivors’ stories and messages of support stitched into the quilts.

The event was the first public display of the historic project “The Monument Quilt.” Over the next year, a collaboration of local artists behind an organization called FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture will collect up to 6,000 quilts from survivors and allies across the country. During the summer of 2014, the collected quilts will blanket the lawn of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“For survivors, the first step towards healing is the telling of what happened,” says Hannah Brancato, FORCE co-director. “As long as the telling of such stories is ignored or forbidden in our culture, we are hindering the process for millions of survivors to heal.”

The quilts displayed were made locally in churches, community centers, college campuses and living rooms. During a quilt making workshop at the Spiritual

Empowerment Center, participants stitched fabric, wrote messages of support and recounted their personal stories. One workshop participant, Deletta Gillespie, said at the display, “It’s really gratifying knowing that I had a part of it. To see people walk by and look at the quilt and you see their reaction.”

“This space is really moving,” said attendee Alexa Richardson. “It is incredibly powerful to see the stories juxtaposed in a public space. It’s heartfelt and community driven. I feel, as I think everyone here feels, really excited about the impact of the final quilt.”

If the Monument Quilt, and the space it is creating, moves you in any way, you may get involved in creating the final vision. Anyone can make a blanket that contains a personal story or a message of support for survivors of rape and abuse. For instructions on how to create and submit a blanket, visit:

http://upsettingrapeculture.com/quilt_instructions.pdf. Organizations including churches, schools, community centers and social groups are invited to host quilt making workshops.

For more information about hosting a quilting workshop or any other ways that you may become involved in the project, email: upsettingrapeculture@gmail.com.