WARNING: This exhibit can be emotionally triggering for people impacted by sexual assault. If you would like to speak with a victim’s advocate for support, please call DOVE Center’s 24/7 Helpline:

435-628-0458.

What Were You Wearing Exhibit 

The purpose of this exhibit is to dispel a victim-blaming myth that clothing somehow invites a sexual assault. Victims of crime are not responsible for crimes committed against them. Survivors of rape/sexual assault are often asked, “What were you wearing?” We need to stop asking this. We encourage you to look at these stories and outfits of local survivors to see that clothing is irrelevant when it comes to sexual assault. As you read what these survivors shared, please take a moment to reconsider what may be your own long-held beliefs about sexual assault that are, in reality, myths and stereotypes that can aid perpetrators of crime in avoiding accountability for their choices.

“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 grey 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.” 

“My missionary companion and I were accosted outside our apartment in the early evening by a group of thugs. He escaped. I was abducted, brutalized, raped and left in a roadside ditch outside the town where we were living. I was wearing a suit, white shirt, tie and my shoes and socks.” 

“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 night time 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 grey 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 grey sweatshirt.”

“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.” 

“My dad raped me at 9:00 in the morning. I was wearing my pink pajama shorts and t-shirt. A rapist isn’t just a stranger — it could be anyone, your dad, your uncle, your husband…”

“I was wearing dark blue designer jeans, a white t-shirt, my Mom’s BYU sweatshirt and white Keds. He was my older brother’s friend.” 

“I was wearing a solid black, flowy shirt that had slits up the side that stopped at ribs. Light wash denim shorts that were high-wasted. With a navy-blue bikini underneath. I was at a pool kick back and a guy I was acquainted with from school was there. I had been drinking, enough to be intoxicated. I began to cry and lost my denim shorts I took off for hot-tubbing. He took me into a room to help me look for them, but I started feeling sick and laid down on a bed. He started trying to take advantage, I kept saying no but wouldn’t stop; he raped me.”  

“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 grey socks, no jewelry, and a navy striped sports bra which I later destroyed.” 

“The night 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 sweat shirt that had my school Shakespeare team’s logo on it because it was soft and made 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 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 joined the army because I wanted to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps. Four weeks into Basic Training though, I was jumped and raped by four other men. I had trusted these fellow soldiers and they betrayed that trust. I spent 14 days in the hospital following the assault. Although I was honorably discharged, I am damaged for the rest of my life. Since then, I was rated 70% permanently and totally disabled by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs. This is what I was wearing but the shame from that night I’ll wear forever.”    

“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.”    

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or rape, DOVE Center is here to provide support. Please reach out to us or visit our other web pages to learn more about assault recovery and how to get help so you don’t have to go it alone. You are not alone. We hear you. We see you. We believe you. DOVE advocates are always available on our 24-hour Helpline: (435) 628-0458.

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