Trigger warning: If someone came into an E.R. with a gunshot wound after a botched robbery, it would be insane for doctors or nurses to begin questioning the patient on what they had done to provoke the robber. Unfortunately, for many victims of sexual assault, this type of victim blaming is what they are greeted with. (Victim blaming is the act of holding a victim of a crime accountable for whatever misfortune has befallen them.) Photographer Katherine Cambareri’s photo series attempts to break this habit.
The series is titled Well, What Were You Wearing? named after the question often asked of many sexual assault victims. Cambareri asked to photograph victim’s clothing as the inanimate objects they are. The clothing articles included sweatpants, jeans, flannels, and long sweaters. There is a common misconception that victims of sexual assault or rape wear clothing that says, “I am asking for this.”
The collective series is striking. The empty clothes hanging on top of a black background is hauntingly powerful. The goal of the project is to start a conversation.
As a young woman living on a college campus, the artist realizes the ever-present risk of sexual assault. In the artist’s statement she explains, “I decided to document what victims wore at the time they were assaulted to show that there is no type of clothing that causes assaults to occur. ”
Any discussion of the topic is a step in the right direction. If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted and needs someone to talk, call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.