What Were You Wearing Exhibit 2023
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the DOVE Center and Utah Tech University have partnered once again to display the “What Were You Wearing” Exhibit.
The exhibit is a collection of clothing items that closely resemble or are the actual clothes someone was wearing during the assault. The ages range from young children into adulthood and each of the displays has words from the survivor next to it.
"The purpose of this exhibit is to dispel a victim-blaming myth that clothing invites a sexual assault. Victims of crime are not responsible for crimes committed against them," UTU Director of Student Resources Dru Bottoms said.
DOVE Center Education Program Manager Elizabeth Bluhm said this year has the most child abuse stories ever submitted.
“It's an exhibit like this, that empowers them to come forward and finally get it off their chest," Bluhm said. "I think especially the incest stories, they are particularly difficult because of the level of betrayal that they had experienced. And they didn't have words for it as children, but they do now”.
A recent DOVE Center Press Release said that the non-profit has seen an increase in sexual assaults each year.
“What Were You Wearing” is an exhibit that brings awareness to a question survivors are often asked, the DOVE Center website says. It's part of “a victim-blaming myth that clothing somehow invites a sexual assault”.
"Survivors of rape/sexual assault are often asked, “What were you wearing?” We encourage you to visit the exhibit and view stories of local survivors to see that clothing does not matter and should not matter in cases of sexual assault," Bottoms said.
There are 13 displays that were submitted this year with a majority being local. Only two were submitted from out of state Bluhm said.
The press release also said that the DOVE Center had a five percent increase in those they helped who had dealt with a form of sexual assault in 2022.
Bluhm says that response is the key to allowing survivors to move on.
“If this could be the very first person they've ever told, and if you sideline them, ‘oh, well, you know, what were you wearing?’ The victim blaming, the implied pushing.” Bluhm said. “And somehow, we have that in our culture, that we immediately assume someone provoked an assault.
She says to believe the survivors and check ones own biases before responding to make sure that nothing unintentionally harmful can be said.
The exhibit will be held at the UTU campus from April 3 through 7 in the Holland Centennial Commons Building. Then, from April 10 through 14, the exhibit will be held in the Eccles Fine Arts Center. The DOVE Center and the UT Student Resource Center will have booths at the exhibit with more resources and information.
The “What Were You Wearing” Exhibit is open to the community. There will also be a poster with a QR code for anonymous submissions for the 2024 exhibit.
If you or someone you know needs help call the DOVE Center 24-Hour Helpline at 435-628-0458.