Surviving, thriving and not sorry about it

You are not alone. You are heard and you are seen. Minneapolis debuts a beautiful memorial to honor those whose lives were affected by sexual violence

Hayden Hayes, Reporter

We are surrounded by survivors; people who fell victim to acts of sexual violence and not only survived, but were willing to tell their stories to end systematic sexual abuse within our society. History was made in Minneapolis as survivors and supporters broke ground on the nation’s first permanent memorial to survivors of sexual assault. The iconic memorials were put up to spread awareness and honor the victims. 

The memorial depicts two emotional metaphors: mosaic and a ripple effect. The mosaic represents that even broken pieces can be put together to create something that’s not only new but better. The ripple effect represents the multiplying power of breaking the silence; by telling our stories, we unconsciously give other survivors permission to tell theirs and enable their voices to be heard. 

The open space at Boom Island Park is intended to create a safe place for healing and community. The creator, Sarah Super, hosted a virtual dedication ceremony on October 10, where she opened up the memorial.

 “This initiative started just weeks after my ex-boyfriend broke into my apartment, pressed a knife to my throat, and raped me”. Super said. 

Super went on to explain that after this horrific event, people around her would say that all she needed in order to heal was “a good therapist and a lot of self-care,” as though this event would not change who she was as a person and stay locked within her mind for the rest of her life. 

“Healing was, in their minds, a private matter, something that I was responsible for, something they could walk away from,” Super said. “I was left to wonder: Can a rape survivor heal in a rape culture? Yes [they] can.”

The idea for a memorial came to Super in the weeks following her assault. As she spoke openly and freely about the experience, she watched her story ripple out, touching those who have also been affected by sexual violence, who then reached back with their own stories.

“Silence is not a neutral response,” Super said. “A lot of people say and do nothing because they fear saying the wrong thing. What we now know is that saying and doing nothing is the wrong thing.”

The Survivors Memorial is a reminder that survivors surround us. Super and her colleagues wanted to offer a place for other survivors to feel at peace and to feel as though they are not alone. Super wanted them to understand that yes, the assault changed them, but that doesn’t make them less valid as a person. Lives are like mosaics, filled with shards of pain and past breakage, but when you step back, you can see a beautiful portrait of who you are.

The memorial is permanent and can be admired anytime you need. You can find more information on the memorial’s website where you can learn about the team who created the memorial, find a place to donate to keep the memorial up and to learn more about sexual violence in America.