The nation’s first, permanent, public memorial to honor survivors of sexual violence will break ground at Boom Island Park (near the footbridge to Nicollet Island) in Minneapolis on Aug. 8. at 10 a.m.
“I am filled with gratitude and deeply, deeply moved by the generosity of everyone who made a contribution to the Memorial,” said Sarah Super, a rape survivor and founder of the organization Break the Silence, which gives sexual assault survivors a platform to share their stories. “The Memorial will honor the courage and strength of survivors. It will serve as a powerful symbol of our community’s ability to bear witness to survivors, to validate and affirm survivors, and to stand in solidarity with survivors. The Memorial will also bring greater awareness to the prevalence of sexual violence in society and the pressing need to change our culture.”
The project was inspired by Super’s personal pain, anger, and grief in the days after she was raped by an ex-boyfriend in 2015, the stories survivors shared with Super when she publicly shared her own experience and the work of Dr. Judith Herman, a psychiatrist who is an expert in psychological trauma.
The Memorial was designed collaboratively by Super; landscape architects Joan MacLeod, Rachel Blaseg and Jennifer Germain of Damon Farber Landscape Architects and mosaic artist Lori Greene of Mosaic on a Stick. It will be 30 feet wide and will depict a survivor’s interpretation of the trauma and aftermath of sexual assault. A circle of benches will invite people to sit together and break the silence around sexual violence. The mosaics symbolize that broken pieces can be put together to create something whole and beautiful. A ripple effect carved in the landscape signifies the multiplying power of breaking the silence, that when survivors tell their stories, they unconsciously give other survivors permission to tell theirs.
Super and 10 other survivors approached the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board about the Memorial in 2015, and it was approved it in 2017 with the condition that $650,000 be raised to cover costs. More than 1,000 individuals and organizations donated to reach the $650,000 goal.