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“What Were You Wearing?” Installation

April 17 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

On Wednesday, 4/17 from 5-7PM, Health Imperatives will be hosting the “What Were You Wearing?” exhibit to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The exhibit is meant to dispel a victim-blaming myth that clothing somehow invites a sexual assault. Staff members and resource tables will be available throughout the exhibit to provide support and information.

The Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013. Created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, the project was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing, and has been recreated thousands of times across six continents.

Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman had worked as sexual violence and intimate partner violence survivor advocates for over a decade when the Installation was created. The question, “what were you wearing?” was pervasive for most survivors.

Dr. Wyandt-Hiebert and Ms. Brockman wanted to create a project that would place the work of bearing witness to this question’s answer back on the shoulders of the community and humanize the survivor in the answer. To ask the question, “what were you wearing?” cost the questioner nothing; however, the survivor must pay dearly in not only their answer but also, in the burden of self-blame.

The Installation challenges participants to engage with the universal connection we have with clothing and reflect on what gives this specific rape culture myth so much power. The Installation asks participants to understand that it was never about the clothing and the act of shedding those clothes is never enough to bring peace or comfort to survivors. The violation is not simply woven into the fabric of the material, it is a part of the survivor’s new narrative. If only ending sexual violence was as easy as changing our clothes. Instead, it requires all of us to evaluate what enabled us as individuals and as a society to ask, “what were you wearing?” in the first place.


April 17
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Health Imperatives
942 West Chestnut St
Brockton, MA United States
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