‘What were you wearing?’ UW Baraboo exhibit addresses sexual assault

‘What were you wearing?’ UW Baraboo exhibit addresses sexual assault

An art installation at University of Wisconsin Platteville Baraboo Sauk County is challenging stigmas surrounding sexual assault.

A common question community members ask after hearing about a sexual assault may be, “What were you wearing?” The exhibit, using that question as its name, aims to show that sexual assault can happen to anybody no matter what they were wearing.

It features recreations of actual outfits that survivors wore when they were sexually assaulted, accompanied by short descriptions of their experiences.

“When you go through, you expect it to be shorts and a crop top, but all of these clothes are pajamas, or sweats or a prom dress,” said Victoria Buchaniec, a freshman student who was seeing the exhibit for the first time. “Maybe (people will) realize that ‘What were you wearing?’ shouldn’t be the first question you ask.”

The installation is part of a program that is used on campuses nationally after being developed at the University of Arkansas in 2014. UW Platteville Baraboo Sauk County intends on displaying the installation every year.

Participants can submit their experiences to be included in future years.

According to Elizabeth LaBroscian of the Hope House of South Central Wisconsin, a stigma of victim blaming still exists in the community.

“The perpetrator is going to perpetrate regardless of what you are wearing,” she said. “I might be wearing something that I wouldn’t wear to church, but that doesn’t mean that I deserve that. I still have the right to come forward and be believed.”

The installation will be on display through April 24, in room A-217 of the Umhoefer Administration Building during regular campus hours.

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