• Abigail Hall

Norman knitting circle strikes back against sexual abuse, assault

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Originally published at OU Daily Nov. 29, 2017

Once a month, a group of women from a local knitting circle gather to drink cocktails, work on crafts and empower themselves through conversation on their experience with sexual assault or abuse.

Six years ago, when a knitting circle that Stacey Wright was a member of disbanded she decided to take the reins and start her own. The knitting circle gave Wright a place to gather with other women and build a safe community to process life with, while also being able to connect over a love of crafts.

Wright’s knitting circle began as a small group of people she knew from Norman and grew to include friends and family members of the group. As the knitting circle expanded, the group discovered a common thread: most of them had experienced a form of assault or abuse in their lives.

“Being able to tell your story, speak your truth with people who are not only going to believe you, but who are going to support you through thick and thin, that is rare and powerful and something we desperately need,” Wright said.

Wright said it’s simply statistics. In the United States, 17 percent of women have been or will be victims of sexual violence in their lifetime. However, in Oklahoma, that percentage is raised to 35-45 percent higher than the national average.

On an average meeting night, the knitting circle women curl up on Wright’s couch and floor. They eat snacks and drink cocktails and in their community and conversations they heal.

Rai Fordyce, a member of the knitting circle, has been involved since the beginning. Being in the knitting circle has been a vital part of her life and has given her the ability to share her story with people who not only value her, but who are not frightened by her experiences.

“This is the only place where people will understand,” Fordyce said.

Ashley Morrison, another active member of the knitting circle, said she is inspired daily by the women involved and looks forward to every chance to engage with the circle.

“What I value the most is having a creative experience where I can do things I enjoy, such as cross stitching or knitting, and chat with women I relate to,” Morrison said.

The group contains women of all ages. Wright is the oldest and a grandmother. Some women are just beginning their adult lives, having children, or continuing school. Wright's daughter and nieces stumble through the group from time to time, as well.

In early 2014, Wright’s niece, Danielle Brown, was a student at Norman High School. She told her mother and Wright about a girl attending NHS who had been raped and bullied out of school.

Wright brought the issue to her knitting circle, asking them to help her do something about it.

The following week, Wright’s nieces, friends from the knitting circle, and other women who had heard of the assault came together at Wright’s sister's home to plan what to do. The group established the name "Yes All Daughters." They created a private Facebook page and set a date for a protest at Norman High.

Yes All Daughters received a large turn out. Six-hundred students participated, as well as 1000 citizens who lined the street outside the school. The protest also received national news attention, jumpstarting the knitting circle’s civic engagement.

In the aftermath of the Yes All Daughters protest, Wright continued to establish Yes All Daughters as a tool in the community through introducing legislative bills and instituting better education about these issues in schools.

After the protest, the knitting circle continued in its awareness of social issues and began to join Wright in civic engagement. Members joined her when she hosted events and projects such as writing letters to legislators or participating in a food drive at Norman High School.

Wright suggests those who want to make waves and join the movement begin by having conversations about these issues. In addition to this, she invites groups of friends to form their own knitting circles and communities to discuss these issues and start the healing process.

“There’s tremendous power when women come together and support each other. We found this group strength in coming together and sharing all these different aspects of our lives,” Wright said.

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