MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — History was made in Minneapolis as survivors and supporters broke ground on the nation’s first permanent memorial to survivors of sexual assault.

A rape survivor spearheaded the years-long project. The open space at Boom Island Park is intended to create a safe place for healing.

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The Survivor’s Memorial goes so much deeper than the ceremonial dirt dug for its groundbreaking Thursday morning.

“This initiative started just weeks after my ex-boyfriend broke into my apartment and raped me,” said Sarah Super.

The victim-survivor pushed for the project after hearing from others who echoed ‘me too.’ It took four years of courage, sacrifice and fundraising to get to this day.

“This memorial is a community response to sexual violence, rape culture and injustice. It will be a place for truth-telling, a place that validates our experiences, our suffering and our courage,” Super said.

The circle of support and healing at Boom Island Park will sit along the Mississippi River with a view of downtown Minneapolis. A project the Minneapolis Park Board supported.

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“We see you, we hear you, we believe you and you are not alone,” Park Board President Brad Bourn said.

Many of the donations to build the nation’s first permanent memorial came in small amounts from individuals, survivors. And it had backing from attorney Jeff Anderson who has represented victims of sexual assault for years.

“I’m grateful to stand among so many and honor those that dared to care so greatly,” Anderson said.

The design includes three mosaics, to show shattered pieces can be made whole and the ripple effect felt from sharing.

“May it be a symbol of our commitment to bear witness to these atrocities and to honor the victim-survivors,” explained Super.

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The Survivor’s Memorial should be complete in the next year.

Jennifer Mayerle