Monument Quilt Supports Survivors

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The Monument Quilt spread the expanse of Ohio University’s Peden Stadium on Friday, giving a strong message of support to survivors of rape and sexual assault. The quilt is made up of over 2,000 squares, each of which tells a survivor’s story.  One square said “a wedding band is not permission.” Another spelled out “end rape culture” in large black letters. All the squares laid together spelled out “not alone” across the football field.

The quilt was started by FORCE, a national activist group that aims to upset the culture of rape and promote a culture of consent. They create public art installations to spark a conversation surrounding their mission. The Monument Quilt project was launched in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign, and it began touring the country in 2014. Since then, it has traveled to dozens of cities across the U.S.

OU was the first university to display the entire quilt on a campus football stadium. Dr. Geneva Murray, director of OU’s Women’s Center, said showing the quilt in such a public space was vital to its impact.

“Showing stories in public spaces means that we have to look past the numbers. We have to look at the realness of what happened,” she said.

For OU senior Abbey Knupp, a sexual assault survivor herself, the quilt was representative of solidarity.

“I felt very isolated and alone and I think that the quilt is a very real representation that there are thousands of people out there who’ve experienced something similar to what I have,” she said.

The Monument Quilt became more than just an exhibit for survivors and other visitors. Throughout the day, the quilt became a venue to speak up and speak out. Knupp spoke about her assault publicly for just the second time.

“I did not report what happened to me, and I feel a lot of guilt and shame about that,” she said. “But it was just something that I didn’t feel like I was capable of doing at the time. So I think for me, speaking about my stories and my experiences is my way of still doing something, even though I didn’t report when it happened.”

Dr. Murray is also a survivor. Her quilt square has been a part of the quilt since 2014, but you won’t find her pointing it out to anyone.

“I think the quilt and the power the quilt has for me is that they are our stories,” she said. “The quilt is my story. If you want to see my story, you can see the quilt. You don’t need to see which piece is mine because they are all our stories.”

The Monument Quilt will continue traveling around the country until this spring, when it will blanket the National Mall in Washington, D.C.