A new ad campaign is taking aim at sexual assault, but not in the way you might think. Instead of telling women to protect their drinks or offering bystander intervention tips, the ads have a powerful message for survivors: “You did not deserve it,” “There is healing. There is hope” and “Your voice matters.”
Created by activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, the ads will begin appearing on buses and billboards around Baltimore later this month.
“By removing stigma, silence and the culture of shame and blame through art, we can create cultural and policy change in the U.S.,” says Baltimore native Rebecca Nagle, co-director of FORCE.
The ads, which FORCE says are the first of their kind, invite city residents to gather on April 9 to see the group’s Monument Quilt, a national art project inspired by war memorials that encourage survivor healing. Survivors’ stories are written, stitched and painted onto red fabric then added to the quilt. To date, more than 1,000 squares have been collected.
“The Monument Quilt is a tool to reconnect survivors to community and for communities to come together to publicly support survivors,” says FORCE co-director Hannah Brancato. “Trauma is most often an isolating experience, yet these traumas impact the whole community.”
This isn’t the first time FORCE has taken an innovative approach to anti-rape activism. In 2012, the group planted underwear with consent-themed messages—such as “Ask First” and “Consent Is Sexy”—in Victoria’s Secret stores across North America and Europe as part of its Pink Loves Consent project. The following year, the group pranked Playboy and its readers by creating a website that claimed the magazine would release an issue focused on consent instead of a list of the nation’s top party schools.
Join the Monument Quilt movement by sharing your message to survivors on social media with the hashtag #SurvivorsDeserve.