Options Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Jana's Campaign, and FHSU Announces "What Were You Wearing" Survivor Art Installation in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
HAYS, Kansas, April 5, 2019 – Every April, victim advocacy and prevention organizations across Kansas, and the nation, recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and an opportunity to bring awareness to the ongoing issue of sexual violence in our communities. This year, Options Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Jana’s Campaign, and the FHSU Women’s Leadership Project are collaborating to bring “What Were You Wearing” a sexual assault survivor art exhibit to the FHSU campus and the community at large for the second time in as many years. The exhibit features recreations of outfits that survivors of sexual assault were wearing at the time of their assault, based on personal testimony from the survivors themselves.
The survivor art exhibit was born out of an advocacy lens. The question, "What were you wearing?" is pervasive for most survivors. The project's intent is to place the work of bearing witness to this question's answer back onto the shoulders of the community. The exhibit asks viewers to understand that sexual assault is NEVER about the clothing the survivor wore - and the act of shedding those clothes is never enough to bring peace or comfort to survivors. The violence is not simply woven into the fabric of the material, it is a part of the survivor's new narrative.
The exhibit requires all of us to evaluate what caused us, as individuals and as a society, to ask victims of sexual assault, "What were you wearing?" in the first place. To ask the question, "What were you wearing?" costs the questioner nothing; however, the survivor pays dearly in not only their answer; but also in the burden of self-blame.
"Everyone in our community needs to see this exhibit and understand the survivor is never at fault. The exhibit is also personal; attendees can see victims as their friends, family, neighbors, even themselves, and realize sexual assault can happen to anyone." Kim Cebula, Executive Director of Jana’s Campaign.
"Research shows that one in five women will experience sexual violence in their lifetime; and in eight out of ten cases, the rapist already knew their victim. As you read the stories in this powerful exhibit, you'll see that statistic rings true. Demand for sexual assault services at Options has increased 655% in the last three years alone. This isn’t a problem in other comminutes – it’s a problem right in our own backyard," said Jennifer Hecker, Executive Director of Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.
The "What Were Your Wearing" exhibit will be open April 15-18 from 10am to 4pm in the south end of Forsyth Library on the Fort Hays State University campus. The exhibit will also be featured in the Spring Art Walk in Hays on April 26th from 6pm – 9pm at Styles Dance Centre at 1501 Main St.
Options Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Inc. is a non-profit agency dedicated to providing direct assistance to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking through individual support. Options provides services to 18 counties in Northwest Kansas; services are always voluntary and provided free of charge, with complete confidentiality.
Jana's Campaign is a national education and violence prevention organization with the single mission of reducing gender and relationship violence. In honor of the late Jana Mackey and other victims and survivors of gender and relationship violence, Jana’s Campaign delivers educational programs that prevent domestic and dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking.
If you or someone you know needs help because of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking, call Options free Helpline at 800-794-4624 for help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week