Thousands of stories from sexual assault survivors blanket the Mall

In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the messages were scrawled in Sharpie, stitched in yarn, written in paint. There were thousands of them, woven onto red quilts that stretched across the length of four football fields:

“I went into a movie theater expecting my first kiss . . . instead I was met with sexual assault.”

“I was 15. He abused me, emotionally and sexually. I saw him every day after I left him, for 2 years.”

“I was your wife, not your property.”

“My family still doesn’t know.”

Altogether, 3,000 individual stories from survivors of sexual violence blanketed the Mall on Friday afternoon as part of the Monument Quilt, an art tribute that will be on display through Sunday. The messages came from women, men and children across the United States and Mexico — stitched in churches and schools and homes. From the air, the 4-by-4-foot panels of quilts formed the words “YOU ARE NOT ALONE” and the gender-neutral translation in Spanish: “NO ESTÁS SOLX.”

The Monument Quilt, organized by the Baltimore-based activist collective FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, is the culmination of five years of gathering survivors’ stories. It began long before the #MeToo movement, before the Trump administration and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination hearings, as a way to unite and elevate the stories of surv...

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