MTSU exhibit highlights victims' stories of sexual assault - WSMV News 4

MTSU exhibit highlights victims' stories of sexual assault

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The name of this exhibit is called "What Were You Wearing?" It shows recreated outfits from the stories of sexual assault survivors. Students say this sends a strong message. The name of this exhibit is called "What Were You Wearing?" It shows recreated outfits from the stories of sexual assault survivors. Students say this sends a strong message.
The name of this exhibit is called "What Were You Wearing?" It shows recreated outfits from the stories of sexual assault survivors. The name of this exhibit is called "What Were You Wearing?" It shows recreated outfits from the stories of sexual assault survivors.
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

In honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a stunning exhibit highlighting victims' stories of sexual assault will soon be on display in multiple locations around Middle Tennessee State University's campus throughout April. 

The exhibit, "What Were You Wearing?" shares the stories of sexual assault survivors by re-creating the outfits they wore during their attacks. 

Students who organized the exhibit hope it sends a strong message.

“I think we need more awareness," said MTSU freshman Alyssa Poythress. "I think what we're doing is great."

More than 50 survivors provided stories for the exhibit, explaining what they were wearing at the time of their assaults. 

While none of the stories come directly from MTSU students, it does not mean they can't relate to their circumstances. 

"One of my best friends, it happened to her in New York, and it broke my heart that I couldn't be there to stop it,” MTSU Freshman Deven Salazar said. “Just imagine this happening to you.”

“I had a friend who was (sexually assaulted), she was scared to talk about it,” Poythress said.

The actual clothing from the stories is not used because organizers want people to see themselves in each outfit and story. 

Organizers said the purpose of the exhibit is to stop victim-blaming and to end the myth that victims 'invite' sexual assault because of the clothing they wear. 

“There's probably outfits in [the exhibit] where you can look down and be like, 'Wow, I'm wearing the exact same thing,'” Salazar said.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 1-in-3 women and 1-in-6 men in the United States have experienced some form of sexual violence in their lifetimes.

On U.S. college campuses, 20-to-25 percent of collegiate women and 15 percent of collegiate men are victims of forced sexual contact during their time in college.

“I think bringing awareness to what they're wearing puts it in perspective to people that have never [gone] through the situation," Salazar said. "To know that this can happen to me, this can happen to anyone."

The clothing exhibit, which originated in 2013 at the University of Arkansas, was created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert.

Dr. Mary Simmerling‘s poem, “What I Was Wearing,” inspired the exhibit and will be featured at each display.

“What Were You Wearing?” opens in various locations across MTSU’s campus from April 2-6. An information table also will be available in the Student Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some of the outfits also will be displayed on the table.

You can find the exhibit in these locations around MTSU's campus:

  • The south lobby of the Business and Aerospace Building
  • Campus Recreation Center lobby in the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center
  • The first floor of the James E. Walker Library
  • The second floor of Kirksey Old Main

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