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'It does happen here': Art exhibit created by clients of Safe Passage on display at NIU until Dec. 4

DeKALB – “Swept Under the Rug” is an art exhibit created by clients of Safe Passage and will be hosted in conjunction with Northern Illinois University.

The exhibit, located in NIU’s Pick Museum of Anthropology, Cole Hall Room 114, began Sept. 23 and will run through Dec. 4.

Kendal Harvell, Safe Passage’s marketing and communications specialist, said that the goal of the exhibit is to “shed light on sexual violence within the community and empower the voices that have been swept under the rug.”

“All of the artwork in the exhibit was created and submitted by survivors of sexual violence living, working or affiliated with DeKalb County,” Harvell said. “It’s shocking that it does happen to so many people in our community. It does happen here.”

The exhibit will create space through three main projects for conversations that have historically been viewed as taboo and “inappropriate” for open discussion:

“What Were You Wearing?”: Survivors of sexual abuse are often asked what they were wearing when they were assaulted, which leads to shame and victim blaming.

“Touched”: A victim of sexual trauma carries unwanted touches for much longer than the terrifying moments of an assault.

“When the Child Speaks”: According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before turning 18.

The exhibit will provide both in-person and digital opportunities for learning about these issues as well as space for community members and survivors to respond.

Rachelle Wilson, curator of The Pick Museum of Anthropology, said that visiting the exhibit is important “because sexual violence impacts all communities.”

“Our mission is to create an environment where activism can occur,” Wilson said. “We want to raise awareness of the issues. The museum wanted to be a part of that story and share what’s happening through lived experiences. To enter into the exhibit is to enter the most traumatic experience of survivors’ lives.”

“The No. 1 advice is to start by believing them,” Harvell said. “Let them know they’re not alone and help is available.”

A sexual assault research panel, “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on Campus,” will be held virtually via Zoom 1 to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 28. Panelists will review initiatives NIU is undertaking to respond to and prevent domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on campus, while also discussing how individuals can become advocates in their community and workplaces. For information and to register to attend, visit the event’s webpage.

For information or to reserve a time and date for a self-guided visit to “Swept Under the Rug,” visit

Safe Passage offers free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Their HelpLine is available 24/7 by calling 815-756-5228 or texting 815-393-1995.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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