When survivors of sexual violence disclose their stories, they are often asked “What were you wearing?”, as if their clothing choice determines their consent. The What Were You Wearing exhibit, an international survivor art installation, fights back against rape myths by displaying re-creations of the clothing survivors were wearing when they were assaulted.

Susan B. Anthony Project’s What Were You Wearing exhibit, featuring the stories of our clients, will be displayed at the Learning Resource Center at Northwestern Connecticut Community College in Winsted throughout April. You can also view an online version of the exhibit below.

Content warning: The exhibit contains descriptions of sexual and gender-based violence. Please view with discretion and call 860-482-7133 if you need support.

“My work uniform. A red t-shirt, black leggings, and converse. They were wearing the same thing just with cargo shorts, they were my supervisor.”

“A swimsuit. We had been canoeing at the river all day. It had been a really fun time. Then they came in to my tent when I was trying to change clothes.” 

“Probably a little sundress, that’s what I always wore. I was four year old. The worst part was it was from my brother, my own family member.”

“I think sweats and a t-shirt. I went to his place to study. I couldn’t process what happened. He was a worship leader at his church.”

“A cute mini-dress. I loved it the moment I saw it. I had some killer heels too. I just wanted to have a good time that night, look cute, and hang with my sisters. He kept getting me shots, over and over again. The next thing I remember is crawling around on the floor looking for that stupid dress.”

“It happened so many times, I was always wearing his clothes (sweatpants & plaid shirts with black t-shirt) because that’s the only thing I was allowed to wear. He felt like he owned me. I was not allowed to go anywhere, wear anything, or even talk if I was not given permission by him.”

“My favorite yellow shirt, but I don’t remember what pants I was wearing. I remember being so confused and just wanting to leave my brother’s room and go back to watching my cartoons.”

“Pajamas and bathrobes were things that I would wear when the abuse was at its worst. Anything that was related to being in the bedroom. I had a pink lightweight bathrobe and a purple fuzzy bathrobe, nothing glamourous. I would wear my bathrobe after my shower. This was when I would be raped. Pjs I wore in the summer were shorts and a tank top. To him, this was easy access. These are all big triggers for me and it makes my skin crawl. Honestly, anything that I would wear that had a mental connection to his abuse has gone in the garbage. When a man thinks he owns your body just because you are married, it doesn’t matter what you are wearing. That woman is GONE!”

“White t-shirt and black basketball shorts. It was always the same outfit. It was always after rec center league. I trusted him. My mom trusted him.”

“A Bohemian skirt and top. Nothing fancy. I’d worn that outfit a dozen times before. I always thought I was safe because I didn’t wear ‘those’ kinds of clothes. I guess my rapist didn’t get the memo.”
“Black dress pants and a white shirt. I was getting ready to go to work, he started being flirty in the bathroom. When I nudged him away and told him I didn’t have the time right now, it got out of hand really fast.
“It was a night shirt. I had gotten up to get a drink of water and a friend of a friend was crashing on our couch. I play that night over and over in my mind. If I had just gotten a drink from the bathroom sink instead or hadn’t woken him up when I walked through the living room.”
“The first time I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. The next time, years later, I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. I wear blue sometimes when I kickbox or when I need to be assertive. Even today I am wearing blue, because they don’t get to take my voice, my favorite color, or my ability to say no and mean it. These are mine.”
“ (1) White/black striped top and black skirt. It was in a basement study room of a frat house.

(2) Green dress. My friend was too drunk to drive so I let him crash at our apartment.

(3) Usually running shorts and t-shirt by my abusive boyfriend. He would yell at me until he got what he wanted.”

“It was February so I was wearing an oversized sweatshirt and jeans. We were drinking and the friend who hosted the party told me I needed to stay over because I was too drunk to drive. The next day I woke up in his bed with no pants on.”
“I don’t remember what I was wearing the first time. But the second time. Boxers.”
“I was in middle school and only ever wore t-shirts with sweatshirts and jeans. I did even know what molestation was.”
“I was wearing jean shorts and a tank top. He wouldn’t let me out of his car until he finished. As soon as I got home, I threw that shirt in the trash.”
“My lifeguard uniform. She said, ‘guys can’t be raped’. She didn’t stop.”
“Shorts and a tank top. I was walking home from a friend’s place on the well-lit bike trail. It was a 2-minute walk, I thought I was safe.”
“ (1) Jeans and a t-shirt at 18-years old.

(2) Children’s dress by my cousin’s father at 5 years old.

(3) Dress – I thought I was safe with a woman but woke up to her raping me, too.”

“T-shirt and jeans. It happened three times, by three different people in my life. Each time I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.”
“Jeans and an oversized tie dye shirt. She was like a sister to me. There had never been anything like that between us. Then it was like a switch flipped in her and all of a sudden what I didn’t want didn’t matter.”
“Navy blue tank and plaid shorts. Nothing special – no make-up – and sandals. We were just supposed to be hanging out. I didn’t think anything about it.”
“A university t-shirt and cargos. It’s funny; no one has ever asked me that before. They ask me if being raped means I’m gay or if I fought back or how I could ‘let this happen to me,’ but never about my clothes.”