Photos by a La Crosse woman who has become an advocate for rape survivors because of her own rape when she was in the U.S. Army will be featured in an exhibit in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Rachel Beauchene’s organization, Survivors Empowered Through Art, is collaborating with other groups for the exhibit, titled “Project Retrospect: Flipping the Script on Rape.”
Beauchene, who was raped in 2004 by another soldier who went unpunished, founded SETA last year to draw attention to the problem of military sexual assault and to help other rape survivors recover.
The exhibit, which will feature SETA’s latest project, titled “Stepping Stones: Our Path to Healing,” begins Monday in the Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids.
Beauchene, who has post-traumatic stress disorder from her own sexual assault, routinely makes presentations about the military’s lack of punishment of sexual predators.
She has consulted with Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind about federal legislation aiming to take such cases out of military commanders’ hands.
Baldwin cited Beauchene’s case on the Senate floor in November as she argued for legislation to improve the military’s response to sex crimes within the ranks.
Twenty of Beauchene’s photographs will be in the exhibit.
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Pleased with the fact that her work is being used to raise awareness of sexual abuse, Beauchene said, “This is our first big exhibition outside of a university setting.”
It will be the first public showing of “Stepping Stones,” she said.
In that project, military sexual trauma survivors at a workshop chronicled what has given them the ability to move from being a victim to a survivor on 20 glass blocks, she said. Battery-operated tea lights inside the blocks are intended to cast light on the path to healing.
“ Our art shows both the struggles of being sexual assault survivors and the journey to healing,” Beauchene said. “We hope to raise awareness about the epidemic of sexual assault in the military as well as the long-term effects of sexual trauma.
“The art encourages viewers to see sexual assault through a different perspective,” she said.
SETA also is preparing an art and storytelling project on military sexual trauma titled “Speaking Out: Why I Stand.”
Collaborating with Beauchene on the exhibit, which will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and by special appointment, are Midwest Military Outreach, the Veterans Memorial Commission and Riverview Center in Cedar Rapids.