Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 20, 2024
Phoenix "What were you wearing?" Exhibit Sheds Light on Sexual Assault Victim Shaming During Awareness MonthSource: City of Phoenix Website

In an effort to confront the pervasive problem of sexual assault, the City of Phoenix's Strategic Initiatives team has orchestrated an exhibit designed to spotlight the issue of victim "shaming" and "blaming". During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the city is hosting an exhibit called "What were you wearing?" at Burton Barr Library, which interrogates the fallacies of "rape culture" by showcasing the actual clothes worn by survivors at the times of their assaults. This educational assembly, held on the 2nd floor through April 24, is a part of Phoenix's "Let's Talk Teal Campaign".

The installed exhibit is more than just a display, it's a stark and unsettling counterpoint to the accusatory question often posed to survivors. By putting the garments on show, organizers hope to thoroughly debunk the notion that a victim's attire in any way invites or justifies sexual violence. The city aims to not just raise awareness but to also actively disrupt the cycle of shame that can frequently silence those affected. The City of Phoenix's initiative also works to importantly highlight resources for the survivors, aiming to increase community support and understanding.

According to the City of Phoenix's official announcement, the “What were you wearing?" exhibit features personal accounts from sexual assault survivors, paired with recreations of their clothing. This grounding visual aims to illustrate the message that clothing does not contribute to or cause sexual assault, a narrative often wrongly enacted in social discourse and even in legal settings.

The Strategic Initiatives section's collaboration extends beyond this exhibit; they are partnered with community allies to also tackle domestic violence, unhealthy youth relationships, human trafficking, and the pursuit to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Their mission works to not only prevent such tragedies but to also bolster training, community awareness, and enhance services with the goal of nurturing the overall well-being of the individuals they champion.