Stitching the unspeakable

Issues Affecting Women

14 July 2022

Photo provided by Common Threads Project

Common Threads Project accompanies women and girls on their healing journeys from sexual violence, war, and displacement. Using a community-based and strengths-oriented solution to respond to the challenges of sexual and gender-based violence and its enduring psychological consequences, Common Threads Project establishes therapeutic circles for women to gather for mutual support, group therapy, and to create story cloths about their experiences.

Creating these textiles helps the women to express in graphic form what they may not be able to express in words. Non-verbal self-expression is critical in the healing process. With personal stories depicted in the textiles, women are able to access memories and come to experience them in a new way. In addition, the stitching itself provides a calming rhythmic meditative counterbalance to the discussion of distressing experiences, allowing for safe trauma processing.

“At Common Threads Project, we accompany women and girls on their healing journey from sexual violence, war and displacement,” says Rachel Cohen, founder and executive director of the
Common Threads Project. “Through our unique healing methodology, we have witnessed a miraculous capacity for resilience and growth. In countries such as Ecuador, Nepal, Bosnia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even in the most challenging contexts, recovery is possible.”

Around the world, approximately 852 million women and girls aged 15 years or older have been subjected to gender-based violence.[1] It is estimated that more than 60 per cent of these victims have never even told anyone about their experience. Common Threads Project provides a path for lasting psychological recovery from sexual violence.

To help others understand more about the work it does, Common Threads Project has released a video which shares more about the benefits of the trauma therapies it offers. Watch the video:

This grant falls under our Issues Affecting Women Programme, which seeks to contribute to a world in which women are safe from violence and are free to exercise their full and equal human rights. You can find more about the programme by clicking here. You can find out more about the Common Threads Project on its website: https://commonthreadsproject.org/


[1] World Health Organisation (2021) Violence Against Women Prevalence Estimates, 2018. Available at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789240022256 (Accessed 20 April 2022)


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