Editor’s Note: Fifth in a series of stories during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
An exhibit that explores common myths associated with sexual violence currently is on display at Baptist Health Hardin in Elizabethtown.
The exhibit, titled “What Were You Wearing?,” is meant to raise awareness and challenge the myth that sexual violence is provoked by a victim’s clothing.
The hospital is hosting the exhibit in partnership with Silverleaf Sexual Trauma Recovery Services of Elizabethtown,
Baptist Health Hardin nurse and SANE/Forensic program manager Sarah Tovar said the idea for the installation originated at the University of Arkansas. Student survivors of sexual assault, through interviews, shared their stories and what they were wearing when they were assaulted. From there, an installation was created that featured clothes resembling what the students described and their story of what happened.
Tovar said the exhibit, like the one adapted locally, brought public awareness to the fact that what a person is wearing should not matter.
“If we could end sexual assault by changing clothes, then there would be no sexual assault,” she said.
The exhibit at Baptist Health Hardin features a collection of outfits that illustrate the stories shared by local sexual assault survivors about what they were wearing at the time of their attack. According to the Baptist Health Hardin website, all the outfits were inspired by Silverleaf clients who are from the Central Kentucky region emphasizing just how “close to home” sexual assault is to everybody.
A few survivor stories featured are:
• “I was wearing a sweaty black polo, khakis, and a dirty apron. I was at work, trying to avoid my coworker. I had just finished a restaurant’s load of dishes when he cornered me. He’s attending law school now.”
• “A yellow T-shirt from my mom’s work, skinny jeans and a gray jacket with my name on it. I was only 12 years old.”
• “A sundress. Months later, my mother stood in front of my closet and complained about how I never wore any of my dresses anymore. I was six years old.”
• “Army ACU’s (Army Combat Uniform) and I was carrying a gun. So much for preventing anything.”
While the exhibit is not open to outside guests, Tovar said hospital patients and visitors and staff are encouraged to look at the display at the hospital. She encouraged those who do get to stop by the exhibit to share what they see with others.
Outside the hospital, the general public can view some of the stories shared on Baptist Health Hardin’s or Silverleaf’s social media outlets.
The installation is on display through the end of April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.