"What were you wearing," changing the stigma of victim blaming

"What were you wearing," changing the stigma of victim blaming
(Source: Twitter - Malena Caruso)

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - 316 red flags displayed at the University of Toledo Monday. 316 incidents of rape in Toledo in 2016.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The University of Toledo kicking off the week with the opening of a powerful installation at the Carlson Library.

"Surprised by the amount of stories we got," Jamie Wlosowicz, a Graduate Assistant in the Title XI Office at UT described. "I wasn't quite expecting this many on our first year doing this."

24 anonymous stories were submitted. 24 outfits recreated by the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Office at UT.

"The last question you should be asking someone is what they were wearing," Lindsay Tuttle, the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Coordinator at UT explained. "How about we ask them, 'how you are doing?' That comes with by-standard intervention, that comes with prevention education and not the victim blaming."

Lindsay says this installation, "What were you wearing", aims to knock down the stigma that what is worn at the time of a rape or sexual assault is to blame the victim for the violent act.

"My biggest hope is that people that need the help will come forward and they'll get the services they need, either confidentially or not confidentially," Tuttle said.

The stories and clothes of all ages and styles tell stories, some of them for the first time, of sexual violence. The students and staff at UT hope this is also a healing process for victims.

"You know, I hope that this is an eye-opening experience for them," Micki Pittman, a masters student in Social Work said. "That they come in here and they don't feel alone. This is unfortunately something that happens way too often."

The exhibit, "What were you wearing," at the Carlson Library runs from Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are also many resources available for friends, family and those who've gone through sexual violence.

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