We need to quit asking survivors, “what were you wearing?”

by | Apr 27, 2018 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Last month, DOVE Center and DSU’s Women’s Resource Committee sponsored an interactive exhibit on campus called “What Were You Wearing,” the purpose of which is to dispel a victim-blaming myth that clothing somehow invites a sexual assault. Victims of crime are not responsible for the crimes committed against them, but in the case of sexual assault, victims are often asked “what were you wearing?” — a question that implies a victim’s clothing contributed to their being assaulted. We invite you to take a look at these photos and stories from local survivors to literally see for yourself how irrelevant clothing is to the commission of sexual assault. Believing survivors is a critical step in the effort to end sexual violence. #StartByBelieving #DOVEcanhelp #NOMORE
“We met online, skyped a few times even before we met in person. I was so careful about meeting up in a public place. He was really nice; until he wasn’t. He wouldn’t listen and he wouldn’t stop. the nurse at the ER wanted what I was wearing: jeans, red Dixie t-shirt, blue hoodie, my underwear and bra… I didn’t want to see any of it again. I thought I could just not think about it and forget but it doesn’t work like that.”
“I was wearing a long, groovy orange-print Dashiki. It was 1972 and I was a college freshman, living in the dorms. I hired my roommate’s boyfriend to be my Attendant. After bringing me dinner one night, he raped me. Before he left, he threatened me if I told anyone. I was so terrified I didn’t tell my roommate or even stop payment on the check I had paid him for that week’s work. I moved out the next day. I missed a lot of classes, came really close to quitting school altogether.”
“I was wearing a loose black hooded shirt, khaki jogger pants, and a ball cap with hoops. I consciously chose that outfit that night thinking I could blend in with the guys. But at the end of the night my perpetrator proved to me that he never saw me as one of his friends, but as a piece of meat.”
“The night that I was raped I was dressed for comfort. It was March, so it was brisk, but not cold enough for me to feel like I needed to wear long pants. I was already really sad and depressed so I wore my royal blue collared sweatshirt that had my school Shakespeare team’s logo on it because it was soft and made me feel like I was safe and secure. My shorts were a pair of gray basketball shorts that were at least a size bigger than they originally should have been which made them knee-length. I got rid of the pants and underwear, but I still have the sweatshirt. I don’t really wear it anymore though, because it stopped feeling soft and safe.”
“I got rid of the jeans and black shirt. I kept the belt. It was my dad’s. I never would have believed anything like this could happen to me. The cops were really cool. My girlfriend has been the best. She had something like this in high school, so she knows. She knows what it feels like afterwards.”
“When I was raped, I was a sophomore in high school. I was wearing light blue denim capri pants, a black t-shirt with a logo on it, white Converse tennis shoes with gray socks; no jewelry and a navy striped sports bra which I later destroyed.”
“My dad raped me at 9 o’clock in the morning. I was wearing my pink pajama shorts and a t-shirt. A rapist isn’t just a stranger–it could be anyone, your dad, your uncle, your husband…”
“When I was eight, my mother told me I was the reason she divorced my father and we never saw him again. I didn’t understand and she wouldn’t say any more about it. Nobody ever talked about my dad. People didn’t talk about a lot of things then. It was when I was married and had my own little girl that I remembered. He would come in and touch me, hurt me and then he cried with me. He did. He cried. The pillow was still damp in the morning. I would have been wearing a long night dress.”
“I’d been sleeping in my dad’s holey, old gray sweat pants and t-shirt since he passed away. I felt so safe, so close to him. After a year, lots of his friends came to visit for a Celebration of Life party. His best friend kept hugging on me and telling me how beautiful I was. that night he got into my bed and raped me.”
“When I was sexually assaulted I was wearing a red (men’s cut) Dr. Pepper t-shirt, dark denim capris (went mid-calf); brown leather sandals and a beaded necklace. I went on a date with a co-worker and when we got to our destination he started grabbing at me. He then exposed himself to me. I kept telling him “No!… I don’t want to… I am scared.” But he grabbed onto my neck and forced my head towards his genitals. I felt like I couldn’t get away.”
“What I was wearing: It was nighttime on a hot summer night. But I still get cold easily and wanted to be comfortable so I wore the softest outfit I could find and I was not worried about my appearance at all. I wore gray sweatpants, not cute ones either, just baggy sweatpants. I also wore a simple black zip up jacket with a sports bra underneath.”
“I was raped when I was 16, a sophomore in high school. I was wearing dark blue skinny jeans, a dark maroon t-shirt, white sneakers and a gray sweatshirt.”