ST. GEORGE — A new exhibit unveiled at Dixie State University last week showcases clothes that sexual abuse victims were wearing at the time of their assaults to dispel the myth that a person's clothing justifies or condones acts of violence.
The clothing items featured in the "What Were You Wearing?" exhibit range from denim shorts to pajama pants to a toddler's size 2 nightgown, which represented the clothes worn by a woman who said she was assaulted by her father as a child, the Spectrum reported.
The clothes are attached to tall, gray panels with a short narrative describing what happened from the victim.
"It's not about what people wear, who they are, where they were at time, what their identities are, or even about their decisions or decisions they didn't make — it's about who caused the harm," said Florence Bacabac, director of Dixie State's Women's Resource Center and an associate professor of English.
The exhibit showed that sexual assault can happen to people across all genders and ages, Bacabac said.
The exhibit began at the University of Kansas and was brought to the St. George university by Elizabeth Bluhm, the victim's advocate at the DOVE Center.5 comments on this story
"I simply asked survivors to tell me what they were wearing, and some only gave me a sentence while others talked a whole lot more, but it's what they wanted to share," Bluhm said.
One in three women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime, according to the Utah Department of Health.
All of the survivors that shared their stories for the exhibit knew their attacker prior to the assault, Bluhm said.
The exhibit will travel throughout the southern Utah campus during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.