Expressions of freedom and strength have been sewn together in a quilt created by survivors of abuse.
The Hope Project aims to show the importance of the Hamilton community working together to end violence against women.
“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.” One survivor’s silent message taken into action, as the quilt it is written on starts a conversation.
Valerie Sadler of Hamilton’s Mission Services says they thought the project would be therapeutic; a way of healing and a way for these women to share their stories. “We want people talking about women abuse. We want people talking about violence against women and the impact that it has. These stories show the impact.”
The Woman Abuse Working Group asked 84 survivors to express messages of hope, strength, and freedom on blocks now stitched together to create the two hope quilts.
“It was physical and it was mental and emotional and it affected me and it affected my children. I think it still affects probably all of us. I don’t see him anymore but I know that it affects me.”
Mary Dayman was abused by her husband. Speaking at the quilt’s unveiling, she talked about feeling shame; and how when she tried to confide in a family member, she was met with questions about what she did to make him act out.
“It was a lack of understanding this problem and they didn’t really realize how hurtful it was maybe.”
Sadler: “The conversation needs to be turned around to why does he abuse.”
The patches are extremely powerful. For example one asks the question ‘where can I go? Am I going to die this way?’ It reads ‘I hate me and envy others’. But on this quilt there are also strong messages of hope.
“Hope anchors the soul.”
Ones that Dayman says are fitting. “It makes me feel so good. I think it makes us look like survivors which is the group I belong to. We couldn’t have done this if we didn’t feel hopeful.”
Organizers hope the quilt will be displayed in public spaces across Hamilton, like the library, over the next year to continue the conversation.