Exhibit at Arkansas State University bringing awareness to sexual assault

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 10:36 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Arkansas State University and NEA Family Crisis Center partnered up to bring an exhibit about sexual assault victims during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“What They Were Wearing” is a temporary exhibit that displays the articles of clothing sexual assault victims wore during their assaults.

The exhibit shows different articles of clothing, from a swimsuit to nurse’s scrubs.

It wants to change the conversation about victim blaming.

“It’s not the victim’s fault. It’s not something that the victim could control, it’s not what you’re wearing, it’s not what you’re saying,” Amber Bass, the rape crisis program coordinator for NEA Family Crisis Center, said.

“This demystifies the myth that we create in our minds about what a victim is and what and the responsibility they have for what they were wearing,” Perdeta Bush, director of Title IX and institutional equity at Arkansas State University, said.

The victims’ clothing isn’t the only thing on display, the stories of their assaults are also on display.

One victim was assaulted in her church by her own husband and ended up in a hospital, and another set of pajamas belonged to a child, whose assailant attacked them repeatedly in their own home.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 1 in 6 women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, but the wall represents other victims too.

“We have clothing from children to the elderly, also men’s clothing, sexual assault is not just a woman’s problem,” Bush said. “It’s an issue that affects our entire community.”

One in 10 victims of rape are male, and 15% of sexual assault victims are between 12 to 17-years-old, according to RAINN.

The exhibit may only be at the museum temporarily, but its impact should be permanent.

“Carry these stories, carry this clothing with you into deeper discussions and self-reflection,” Bush said.

The victim’s clothing belongs to someone in Northeast Arkansas and Bass has a message for them after putting on display one of the worst moments in their lives.

“I want them to know that they’ve done an amazing thing that’s going to help so many people. If this exhibit can help someone to come forward and express their own emotion their own story, then we’ve done what we’re attempting to do,” she said.

For more information about sexual assault, visit www.acasa.org and www.rainn.org