The Traveling Heart Initiative provides beautiful hospital bags for survivors of sexual assault and is a symbol of solidarity carried around the world.
In the US, a woman is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes. After an attack, a survivor must go through a sexual assault forensic exam or “rape kit” in order to help prosecute an attacker. This is a battery of tests and information collecting that is necessary but invasive. Sometimes she cannot shower, use the restroom, comb her hair, or change her clothes for up to four hours. Fortunately, advocates from rape crisis centers across the US are on hand to help these women through the ordeal and can sometimes provide a small, plastic bag with information and clean clothing. This is called a Hospital Bag.
We have learned that only 1-4 rape crises centers can afford to distribute ‘hospital bags’. Typically generic in scope and usually plastic, these hospital bags are a useful but utilitarian item. We think survivors deserve better!
“After a long and invasive SART exam, the survivor stood slowly from the hospital bed and prepared to get dressed. As her advocate, I was bringing a change of clothes and brought her the items in a Traveling Heart Bag. Her eyes widened as she saw the beautiful fabric bag. I explained it was hers and that it contained her clothes, personal items and a postcard made for her with a message of healing and hope. I told her that the bag and the postcard were created by hand by a person she had never met but that wanted her to know she was not alone. She stopped, made eye contact and took the bag. She began to cry in earnest, moved by the fact that people she would never meet wanted her to feel cared about. “ Sexual Assault Advocate, Northern California
At WWI we envisioned something very different – a hospital bag that in look, feel and contents provides not only the practical necessities but which also conveys a powerful sense of hope, love, resilience and community. Handmade and sewn with love, the Traveling Heart Hospital Bag resembles a beautiful purse or overnight bag. In addition to a change of clothes and toiletries, these bags also contain a Traveling Postcard – an original postcard-sized work of art by a sexual assault survivor or ally, containing a message of love, hope, and resilience.
The bags also contain an invitation to join WWI’s online community and to take part in an upcoming Traveling Postcards healing arts workshop. We never want our bags to become a stigma of rape so we encourage anyone who supports gender equality to carry one.