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:


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.

2023 Exhibit

“I was 6-7, wearing play clothes, homemade style of the 60s in the basement of our house. My 16 year old brother felt he needed to know more about sex before he tried anything with a girl his own age, so he experiemented penetration on me. You had no right. You changed my life and how I would respond sexually to people throughout my life span.”

“I was wearing a green t-shirt and white jeans. I was at a party with my friends, one of my ‘friends’ at the time, raped me. It was my freshman year of college.”

“I was wearing Nike runner’s leggings, an oversized gray hoodie and running shoes. I was walking home from school after track practice a little late around 11 p.m. A man pulled up behind me and made uncomfortable comments until he came out and raped me, tore my leggings and left me bleeding.”

“I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He never even asked, he just thought I was his for the taking.”

“It was my mom’s brother, my uncle. I remember when it started. I was young, 7-8 years old or so. I remember wearing a white shirt when it first happened. And the last outfit when it stopped, was a black shirt and purple pajama pants w/ pink stars.”

“Scrubs and an XL sweatshirt.”

“I was wearing a black tank top and red sweatpants. I thought that just because we didn’t actually have sex, that I wasn’t sexually assaulted. It happened on campus. He was my friend.”

“My boyfriend’s parents picked us up from the airport. I fell asleep on the drive and woke up to him assaulting me in the car in front of his parents. I didn’t stop him and feel so much shame to this day. I was wearing shorts and a sweatshirt.”

“It was my first semester of my freshman year in college. I was wearing gray baggy sweatpants and a black tank top. I left my house feeling excited and looking forward to hanging out with him. I returned to my house feeling broken, empty, and numb. To all the other survivors of sexual assault, I support you and believe in you. This does not define you. And to everyone else, choosing not to educate your children about consent doesn’t protect them, it instead hurts other people.”

“My favorite pair of jeans, a new black turtleneck, cropped sweater, black boots. I was roofied at a bar, I woke up in the ER.”

“I was assaulted repeatedly as a child between 3-5 years old. It was almost a monthly occurence for me. Sometimes I was in a Sunday dress, sometimes a t-shirt & pants/shorts. I was 13 or 15 in my Pjs when I was assaulted for the last time. I want people to know that everyone needs to be believed, no matter what age. I want people to know that sexual assault can happen to anyone, any age, no exceptions. Please stand up and make our world a place where it is ok to say ‘No!'”

“I was wearing sweats and an oversized t-shirt. He sexually assaulted me in the basement of my own home while my parents were awake on the main level.”

“Regular tourist clothes, jeans, flannel shirt and t-shirt. I was a 12 year old boy traveling in Thailand, btw.”

“I was wearing a black hoodie and black leggings. It happened at a movie theatre after I kept pleading, ‘no.’ I cried and wished someone saw as I wished it had stopped. I confronted my assaulter and he begged me not to report. But my story isn’t out there and I never reported. I’m overcoming this challenge every day.”

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.