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Victims Who Were Told That Their Clothing Got Them Sexually Assaulted Display What They Were Wearing
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Social Issues3 years ago

Victims Who Were Told That Their Clothing Got Them Sexually Assaulted Display What They Were Wearing

Each time the victim of sexual violence gets asked what they were wearing, it heartlessly implies that he or she was responsible for the assault and could have prevented it. Rape victim blaming drives responsibility away from a perpetrator and puts it on the victim’s shoulders. To fight against the myth that sexual assault could be prevented by the victim alone, an art exhibition displaying what victims wore during the assault was created.

More info: sapec.ku.edu | twitter.com

The idea to create such exhibition was born after Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman, sexual violence and domestic violence survivor advocates, attended a conference and read a poem “What I Was Wearing” by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s, for the first time. They were touched by it and decided to create the poem’s visual representation. The advocates came up with survivors art installation called “What Were You Wearing?”. The first installation was held at the University of Arkansas in 2014. Students of the university participated by sharing brief descriptions of what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. The intent of the installation was to show people that changing one’s clothes will not stop sexual abuse.

The idea of this installation caught on. Since it was first displayed 5 years ago, “What were you wearing” traveled from one university campus to another. It has also inspired other similar installations and prompted a conversation about the problem of victim-blaming. Scroll below to see some of the exhibits from this stark social issue installation.

“What Were You Wearing? is an installation created to educate people that clothing doesn’t cause sexual assault

“A sundress. Months later, my mother would stand in front of my closet and complain about how I never wore any of my dresses anymore. I was six years old.”

“Army ACU’s and I was carrying a gun. So much for that preventing anything”

“Khakis and a dress shirt. I had to give a presentation that day in my communications class. They took my clothes at the hospital during my rape exam. I’m not sure what happened to them.”

“A swimsuit. We had been canoeing at the river all day. It had been a really fun time. Then they came into my tent when I was trying to change clothes.”

“My favorite yellow shirt, but I don’t remember what pants I was wearing. I remember being so confused and just wanting to leave my brother’s room and go back to watching my cartoons.”

“T-shirt and jeans. It happened three times, by three different people in my life. Each time I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.”

“I missed a couple of days of work after it happened. When I told my boss, she asked me this question. I said, ‘A t-shirt and jeans, what do you wear to a basketball game?’ I walked out and never came back.”

“(1) Jeans and a t-shirt at 18-years old. (2) Children’s dress by my cousin’s father at 5 years old. (3) Dress – I thought I was safe with a woman but woke up to her raping me, too.”

“A university t-shirt and cargos. It’s funny; no one has ever asked me that before. They ask if me being raped means I’m gay or if I fought back or how I could ‘let this happen to me,’ but never about my clothes.”

“I was wearing khaki shorts and a cotton tank top. He convinced me to come back to his house with him after a lame date. I was told by a friend to keep the clothes. I was wearing in case I decided to report it. They are still in a bag hidden in my closet.”

“The first time I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. The next time, years later, I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. I wear blue sometimes when I kickbox or when I need to be assertive. Even today I am wearing blue because they don’t get to take my voice, my favorite color, or my ability to say no and mean it. These are mine.”

“I was wearing jean shorts and a tank top. He wouldn’t let me out of his car until he finished. As soon as I got home, I threw that shirt in the trash.”

“My prom dress. Don’t know if that needs much more explanation…”

“White t-shirt and black basketball shorts. It was always the same outfit. It was always after rec center league. I trusted him. My mom trusted him.”

“Jean shirt, jeans, and Toms. Everyone seems so confused when I tell them this. Like they can’t understand what I am saying. They can’t understand what I was wearing. It’s almost funny. Almost.”

“I was wearing a sari. The same thing I wear most days. It was what I was comfortable in. It reminded me of home, of my family, of my identity. Now it reminds me of him.”

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Corey Smith
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

The six-year-old in a sun dress made me ill.

Sansa Blacktyde
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Yeah, I know what you mean :( And the five year old as well.

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Char Char
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is really deep and heartbreaking. What an asinine question to ask someone after going through a nightmare.

Char Char
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Clarification - I didn't mean the exhibit! I mean real people who ask the victims this question.

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Joanne
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You should never, ever ask a sexual abuse victim what they were wearing. It is extremely hurtful and it's not relevant: even if someone was wearing a supersexy dress or bikini or whatever, she still has the right to choose whether she does or doesn't want to have sex.

Ozacoter
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

That is the whole point of the exibition. To show that which clothes you wore have nothing to do with the experience.To shift blame from victims to rapists

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Hilliary Smith
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Notice the university T-shirt and cargoes one? I think that's a man, and his point is that men don't get asked this particular question, and that fact lays bare how illogical and stupid the question is. His words are important and wise, I think. Of course, the other things he DID get asked are equally problematic.

lakitha tolbert
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This is true. It seems people will find all kinds of ways to blame the victim rather than the rapist. I think they do this as a way of telling themselves it could never happen to them, because they would have been dressed correctly, but of course, that’s an equally ridiculous idea, too. There’s no dress code for rape.

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Alia G.
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I was wearing a hoodie and leggings. My mother was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. My best friends was wearing a Halloween costume that covered her almost from neck to toe. It's not about the clothes. Let's just pretend that all the victims were actually wearing revealing clothes. Even then it wouldn't make it acceptable.

Markéta Podlešáková
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm so sorry alia. That's making me feel sad, that there is somewhere, where this can happen, so often... To too many women...

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LiliumVA
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A strawberry shortcake shirt, and some jean shorts.... I was 7. I guess I was asking for it? I have gotten into physical altercations over this topic, and how so many people want to victim blame. The biggest supporters of that idea? Women. When I tell them I was a child when I was raped they quickly change their tune, and say that it's DIFFERENT. No, it's not different. Clothing choice doesn't matter when it comes to rape, assault, and molestation. It does not matter if she's wearing shorts, a miniskirt of butt naked... they do not deserve it.

LiliumVA
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Varanus Ex - You are a vile human. You're everything that's wrong with this world.

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Bob Beltcher
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Thanks for including boys and men. This is not just a girl/woman problem. This is a problem that knows no age, race, or gender.

Blathnaid O'Loughlin
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Varanus... rape is never the victims fault. Stop victim blaming, you racist, pathetic troll. Also, NEVER tell someone to kill themselves. It’s a sad person who victim blames six and seven year olds.

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NoName
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Keep your filthy, selfish hands to your damn self. Plain and simple. To blame clothes is to avoid responsibly. We wonder why we live in a massive rape culture...

Rose Brien Harrington
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

It's the whole culture of victim blaming, especially when the victim is a woman and the attacker is a man, although there are plenty of female attackers and male victims out there too. There was a post which came out some time back which got to me " 'Was it my fault?' asked the mini skirt. 'No' said the burka, 'it happened to me too.' The diaper in the corner couldn't even speak."

Monika Soffronow
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

" 'Was it my fault?' asked the mini skirt. 'No' said the burka, 'it happened to me too.' The diaper in the corner couldn't even speak."

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ember avery
Community Member
3 years ago (edited) Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

the five year old and the six year old......... don't understand how people could be so cold-hearted and selfish

Malakai
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Clothing didn't get these people sexually assaulted. Sexual assaulters got these people sexually assaulted.

Varanus Ex
Community Member
3 years ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

But boy.....were they sexy, wearing those attack clothes....!!!!

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Bethanie Marshall
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I was wearing jeans and a tank top. I don't know whatever happened to them. I was told I had it coming and I wasn't a good Christian. I no longer believe

Reginald Joseph
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

You did nothing wrong. The people who said that are sick and ignorant. I'm so sorry. None of those things should have happened to you.

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Eagle Girl
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I was attacked. By a friends roommate, I fought, Hard & got away. Called my dad to pick me up bc I was 18 with no car. I'll never forget my father, my hero, looking at me & saying "Well, look at what you're wearing." It was summer, my friend & I were going to the beach. It was a swimsuit & shorts.

Mewton’s Third Paw
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

First of all I’m glad you were able to get away. Second of all, do you feel like your fathers response was worse than the attack? It seems so hurtful and scary that the man who is supposed to protect you and teach you would blame you. It makes me so sad. How are things between you and him now?

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Katinka Min
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I don't understand why not more men rage against this 'What was she wearing'. because what this essentially claims is, that all men are rapists, have as little control as an animal and they can only excert control over their sexual instinct if the woman is properly covered.

Si
Community Member
3 years ago

This comment has been deleted.

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Wil Vanderheijden
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

As recently as November 2018 a FEMALE defense attorney defended a 23 years old rapist: Defense attorney Elizabeth O’Connell highlighted the fact that the 17-year-old victim was wearing thong underwear the night she alleged she was assaulted. "Does the evidence out-rule the possibility that she was attracted to the defendant and was open to meeting someone and being with someone? You have to look at the way she was dressed,” O’Connell said. “She was wearing a thong with a lace front.” As long as these arguments are honoured in a court of law, there's a very long way to go to achieve a civilisation where there's no excuse for rape.

Christina Sersif
Community Member
3 years ago Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Why does it fucking matter what she wears? Even if she’s walking around butt naked it’s not an invitation to rape her. Even if she is clearly flirty and maybe even looking for a casual fling, it doesn’t mean rape her. Stop shaming women and teach men self control.

Si
Community Member
3 years ago

This comment has been deleted.

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