Safe Passage to showcase sexual violence art exhibit


Patrick Murphy

Pick Museum

By Jacob Baker

DeKALB Domestic violence agency Safe Passage will be hosting an art exhibit “Swept Under the Rug” from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at the NIU Pick Museum of Anthropology. They will showcase artwork and galleries from survivors of domestic and sexual violence to shed light on the impact of sexual violence within our community and culture. 

Safe Passage sought to bring an exhibit to the Pick Museum, and with the Pick Museum having a social justice and cultural diversity driven mission through their exhibits, collections and programs, the Pick Museum felt it was a great and exciting opportunity to host the art exhibit Safe Passage was curating, Pick Museum Curator Rachelle Wilson said. 

“The content and the text you see throughout the exhibit has been totally developed by Safe Passage in coordination with us,” Wilson said. 

The “Swept Under the Rug” exhibit will be split into three sections that handle three topics in regard to sexual and domestic violence, Wilson said. There will be an introduction to the exhibit and what Safe Passage is, with proper warnings towards certain triggers. There will also be ways survivors can get help. 

The first section will be called “Touched,” and it will highlight certain areas of the body that leave an embodied memory — positive, negative or non consensual. This section will be demonstrated on mannequins, where survivors have designated the areas that apply to them and the way those touches impact their lives and body throughout time. 

The second section is titled “What Were You Wearing?”  Safe Passage Marketing Specialist Kendal Harvell said. “This section features clothing and outfits survivors were wearing when they were assaulted.” 

The last portion of the exhibit is called “When a Child Speaks,” and shares experiences of young survivors and what they want to tell the community about their experiences.

Harvell wants the exhibit at NIU to challenge the norms and change the culture surrounding abuse and its survivors. Situations like domestic and sexual violence need to be treated with respect and belief, not scepticicsm. 

“We want their response to be ‘I believed you, and what can I do to help, instead of what were you wearing, you should’ve ran or fought back and you were asking for it,’” Harvell said.

“We need to erase those sentences from our vocabulary when we talk about survivors and also hope to empower the survivors who’ve felt their story has been pushed aside.” 

The Pick Museum is excited to have this physical exhibit on campus and will be undergoing several precautions to combat COVID-19, Pick Museum Director Christy DeLair said. There will be advanced time ticketing for 45 minute sessions through Eventbrite at a later date, limited capacity, verbal screenings, hand sanitizing stations and frequent cleaning and required mask wearing. 

While there’s a vast learning opportunity at hand with the exhibit, people who attend are encouraged to remember how personal these stories are to the survivors, who are clients at Safe Passage. 

“To walk into the exhibit is to enter into the very personal stories and traumatic memories of real people.” Harvell said. “Not only are we excited to partner with NIU and connect with more students, this exhibit is so great because it empowers these survivors and reminds other survivors who come to this exhibit that they aren’t alone.”

Safe Passage is currently in the process of collaborating with NIU in terms of how Safe Passage can offer additional support services to assault survivors at NIU, Harvell said. 

Safe Passage wants students to feel comfortable when they report something they’ve been through in the past or on campus. 

All of the services at Safe Passage are completely free and confidential to anyone who has experienced abuse, regardless of when an incident occurred. Safe Passage can be reached at their 24 hour crisis hotline at 815-756-5228 or through text at 815-393-1995 to provide information like crisis intervention and safety planning, emergency shelter screenings and information about services, resources and referrals, according to the Safe Passage website.