Last April, for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I posted a review of my memoir left by an Amazon customer named Katrina. Her commentary hit the mark, and I feel compelled to quote it again:
“Anyone who has been the target of sexual or physical predation will know that, too often, the victim's voice is the first casualty of the abuser's relentless campaign of emotional manipulation, threats, and gas-lighting.”
Anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault knows the truth of Katrina’s observations.
For me, writing my story helped me regain the voice my perpetrator tried to silence years ago. The act of writing finally completed a catharsis that started the minute I opened my mouth to tell my best friend what happened to me. When we keep trauma to ourselves, we decay slowly from the inside out—we’re often left with an internal narrator who repeats the messages of worthlessness and shame our perpetrators delivered when they violated us. We internalize ugly ideas about ourselves.
But if we can be brave for just a moment, and name what happened to us, unburden ourselves from the heavy weight of the past—then we can be free of it. We can move forward and claim the future for ourselves. This is the idea behind The Monument Quilt.
The Monument Quilt is sponsored by FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, “an art activist effort to upset the dominant culture of rape, and promote a counter-culture of consent.”
FORCE encourages survivors of rape and abuse to create a fabric square that tells their story and add it to the quilt by sending it directly to their organization or by participating in one of the many nationwide workshops that help survivors craft their squares. The goal of the project is, “to create and demand public space to heal. The quilt resists the popular and narrow narrative of how sexual violence occurs by telling many stories, not one. The quilt builds a new culture where survivors are publicly supported, rather than publicly shamed.”
The Monument Quilt was recently displayed in Baltimore, and 21 other cities have hosted public displays of the work. The ultimate goal of the project is a quilt whose storied squares, “will blanket over one mile of the National Mall to spell “Not Alone.”
In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I am giving away a copy of my memoir, Losing the Dollhouse. To enter, sign up for my newsletter here. The winner will be chosen at random from the entrants and will receive their choice of a signed copy of the book or the Kindle edition.
[A portion of author proceeds from Losing the Dollhouse will benefit RAINN.]