- The Monument Quilt consists of more than 250 stories from survivors of rape and abuse
- The brainchild of activist group FORCE, Monument Quilt is visiting 13 cities this summer
- FORCE helps community groups display quilt, hold quilt-making workshops
- The goal of the project is to create healing spaces by and for survivors
Rocio Moreno says it took more than five years to leave her abusive husband.
Throughout their marriage, she says, she endured unwanted sexual advances. If she challenged his orders over where and with whom she spent her free time, she says he responded with verbal and physical abuse.
She finally decided enough was enough the day he hit her in front of their son.
"When he hit me I realized he could kill me" she said. "I decided no more violence. I didn't want my son to see him treat me that way."
She left him two years ago and moved into her own place. She mostly kept the ordeal to herself until she found the courage to express herself in the Monument Quilt, a collection of hundreds of survival stories touring the country this summer.
Her words in Spanish are etched into a 4-foot red square that shares space with others' stories in a 16-foot square. When laid out in full, the squares of 250 stories of surviving rape and abuse stretch out to a 100-foot multicolored square.
"You told me that you loved me but now I know and I understand that I was raped," she says. "I was your wife, not your property."
The brainchild of Baltimore-based activist group "Force: Upsetting Rape Culture," the Monument Quilt project is making 13 stops in 12 states, displaying portions of the quilt in public spaces and growing its footprint through quilt-making workshops.
The goal of the project is to create healing spaces by and for survivors, said Rebecca Nagle, co-founder of Force.
The quilt evolved from discussions about how to create a permanent monument to survivors of rape, similar to memorials for war veterans, based on research showing how public monuments can help survivors recover from trauma, she said.
Quilting has a long history connected to social justice movements, perhaps most notably through the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which began touring the country in 1988 in remembrance of those who succumbed to the disease.
Nagle hopes bearing witness to the quilt will help erode stigma attached to rape, similar to the effect the AIDS quilt had on raising awareness around the disease.