Quilt aims to raise rape awareness

Wednesday, September 8, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:38 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

The Survivors’ Quilt is a Harlequin patchwork of 14-by-14-inch cloth squares made by MU students who have dealt with sexual assault or rape, whether as victims, friends or relatives of victims.

Its scores of squares show diverse colors, symbols and words — from camouflage to crosses and inspirational quotes — but they are united by the theme of recovery.

Students were encouraged to make patches to add to the quilt at recent campus displays, and art supplies were provided for those who wanted to do so.

“A big part of it is student involvement and energy,” Kendra Yoder, co-coordinator of the campus Rape Education Center, said Tuesday when the quilt was displayed in Pershing Hall.

Last week, the quilt was displayed at the MU Women’s Center in Brady Commons, and next week it will be shown at the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house.

Peer rape educators and staff from the Women’s Center created the Survivors’ Quilt in 1999, said Laura Hacquard, coordinator of the Women’s Center. She said the idea was inspired by the AIDS quilt and by the Clothesline Project, in which women affected by violence decorate shirts and display them on clotheslines to raise awareness of violence against women.

“We’re trying to provide a way for people to express emotions and to see sexual assault in a different way,” Hacquard said.

Each new square is incorporated into the quilt — which is now four quilts with a total of 144 patches.

Peer rape educators and staff from the Women’s Center have attended the recent displays of the quilt on campus. “I’m here to facilitate the event and help as a person to answer questions about our resources,” said Jackie Cook-Eberle, an MU junior, peer rape educator and vice president of Stronger Together Against Rape.

“I’m here to provide support if anyone gets upset or needs to talk,” said Amy Bowers of the MU Counseling Center.

Peer rape educators give presentations on and off campus to raise students’ awareness of rape and sexual assault on topics including date-rape drugs and helping friends who have been assaulted, according to Cook-Eberle and Andy Fluhart, a peer rape educator and senior at MU.

Public displays of the Survivors’ Quilt coincide with Rape Awareness Month. Other events are planned for the rest of September. A full schedule can be found by calling the Women’s Center at 882-6621.

“Our focus this year is ‘We’re all in this together — what’s your role,’” said Cook-Eberle. “I definitely think people need to come together against sexual assault.”

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