What we were wearing at the time of our attack was not an invitation for violence

In fashion, this question celebrates identity, creativity, and influence. But for survivors of sexual assault, it’s used to blame them for the violence that happened to them. In one context this question is empowering. In the other, it takes away survivors’ agency.

What we were wearing at the time of our attack was not an invitation for violence.

What we were wearing did not cause the attack; only our perpetrators caused the attack.

What we were wearing is irrelevant.

And yet by boldly showing the world what we were wearing, we believe we can open minds and shift attitudes about what sexual assault looks like.

The outfits in this exhibit are 103 in total, representing the 1.3 billion survivors of sexual violence across the globe. Each outfitted figure represents more than 10 million survivors around the world.

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“what were you wearing?” exhibit installation at United Nations Headquarters in New York City

Do you know what sexual violence looks like?

The truth may surprise you.

You can see the diversity of the outfits – in terms of age, gender, culture, and occasion – and read their stories. The exhibit is intended to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the crime of sexual assault, and the many different faces of the survivors among us.

Join the Exhibit

Our exhibit has traveled across the globe, being featured at
The UN Headquarters in NYC, the WEF at Davos, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Brussels Parliament, and the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

Survivors of sexual violence are welcome to anonymously submit descriptions of outfits to become part of this traveling exhibit. Here’s how you can become a part of our exhibit:

Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights

All exhibit attendees, both in-person and online, are welcome to share your reactions to the exhibit using #WhatWereYouWearing.

Please tag us @risenow.us so we can share your posts. 

If you would like to collaborate with Rise to host an exhibit, please contact us.

Additionally, we invite you to further learn about the stigma behind the question “What were you wearing?” by reading Mary Simmerling’s poem that inspired her and Jen Brockman’s work on this issue. You can learn more here.

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Explore other Rise campaigns

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