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'What Were You Wearing?' exhibit at Baylor raises awareness on sexual assault

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Posted at 6:25 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-13 19:36:19-04

WACO, Texas — Students at Baylor University are raising awareness about sexual assault with their annual 'What Were You Wearing?' exhibit. It puts survivors' clothes and a brief explanation on display in the Bill Daniel Student Center to help break the stigma around the cause of sexual violence.

"We have myths such as sexual violence is caused by what the survivor is wearing when in reality it's only caused by one thing and that's the perpetrator," 'It's On Us' Baylor Chapter President Casandra Albarran told 25 News. "Having an event like this really brings light to the issue and shows people that survivors are real people that are sharing their stories and they have feelings; they hear the words you are saying and it's really damaging to the whole stigma."

According to the national group 'It's On Us', one in four women and roughly one in 14 men report sexual violence when in college. Their data shows more than 50% of those cases happen in the first few weeks of students' freshman year, during a period of time they call the red zone.

"Freshmen are typically more vulnerable during this period to experience sexual violence because they often don't have a tight social network looking out for them," 'It's On Us' Executive Director Tracey Vitchers said. "They may be engaging in underage drinking or drug use for the first time and they don't really have a strong sense of the campus climate, particularly around party culture."

Vitchers said the numbers may be even higher than data shows because survivors don't always feel comfortable reporting their experiences.

"Reporting and making the decision to report is a really personal decision for many survivors," she said. "In some cases, they may just not feel comfortable reporting. They may not know how to report or who to report to."

Baylor's exhibit aims to not only raise awareness but also to show survivors they're not alone and help ease some of the discomforts of sharing their stories.

"It's just a whole display of bravery and it really emphasizes the word survivor instead of victim because it's showing that these people still have their stories and are willing to display it out to the world to spread that message," Albarran said.

The exhibit will be available through Friday at 3:00 p.m.