“What Were You Wearing?” Exhibit Hopes to Debunk Sexual Violence Myth

Front Range Community College, April 18-22

The Zonta Club of Fort Collins invites the community to visit the exhibit, “What Were You Wearing?” to be showcased at Front Range Community College Larimer Campus in the Longs Peak Student Center. With support from Alternatives to Violence and SAVA Center, Zonta Club of Fort Collins and the campus Bystander Intervention and Education committee are hosting this exhibit in recognition of April Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, April 18 through April 22, from 10 am – 7 pm.

The exhibit was designed to debunk the notion that sexual assault can be attributed to a victim’s clothing. A collection of different outfits will be displayed throughout the exhibit. Each outfit corresponds to a real sexual assault story from a U.S. college student. The variety of personal stories is intended to demonstrate that sexual assault can happen to anyone, no matter what they are wearing.

“We are hoping that this exhibit prompts conversation among students and the community about sexual assault,” said Julie Trone, President of the Zonta Club Fort Collins. “We want to create meaningful change by encouraging people to ask victims of sexual assault, ‘How can I help you?’ instead of ‘What were you wearing?’

Inspired by a poem from Dr. Mary Simmerling, the traveling installation has appeared in cities and on college campuses around the country since 2014. The creators Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert are domestic violence survivor advocates. Brockman is currently the director of Kansas University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, while Wyandt-Hiebert works with the University of Arkansas as the director of Campus Sexual and Relationship Violence Center.

“Education is critical to prevention,” said Executive Director of Alternatives to Violence, Kari Clark. “We hope that attendees will read the stories, see the clothing and learn to never victim shame. A person’s clothes are never an invitation to a crime.”

Creators, Brockman and Wyandt-Hiebert, not only wanted the work to resonate with viewers but the exhibit is also intended to provide comfort to other survivors by showing that the choices they made in their clothing were not the cause of their trauma.

The exhibit will also give attendees the opportunity to learn more about how to help with the information provided by FRCC Counseling Center, Alternatives to Violence, and SAVA Center.

The Zonta Club of Fort Collins was chartered in 1997 and is a member of Zonta International, a global organization of executives and professionals working together to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. Learn more at zontadistrict12.org/fort-collins.

Alternatives to Violence provides shelter, advocacy, education, and resources for people impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking. Alternatives to Violence serves Loveland and Southern Larimer County. Visit alternativestoviolence.org/ to learn more.

The Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center provides crisis intervention, advocacy, and counseling for all those affected by sexual violence in Northern Colorado while also providing prevention programs through community outreach and education. Learn more at savacenter.org.

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