What Were You Wearing? An Illustrated Online Gallery. Stories from KU students, Illustrated by Faith Maddox

Content Warning: This gallery contains descriptions of gender-based violence.  Please utilize self care as needed.   Call The Care Center for  24/7 local support at (785)843-8985  or visit stacarecenter.org.  Visit rainn.org for support throughout the US.   Click here for more support resources.

Note: The following stories are in each survivor's own words. This gallery contains an instance of ableist language that does not reflect the views of SAPEC staff.

Drawing of white t-shirt with KU logo, teal sweatpants

“I think sweats and a t-shirt. I went to his place to study. I couldn’t process what happened. He was a worship leader at his church.”  -KU Student

Drawing of small pink nightgown with heart pattern, grey v-neck shirt with pink striped pajama pants, and a red pajama top with matching shorts
“Pajamas. Pajamas when I was 8, 9, and 10. Pajamas when I was 13. Pajamas when I was 17. The dark is my biggest fear to this day.  -KU Student

White hoodie with a Jayhawk on the chest, light wash jeans
. “It was February, so I was wearing an oversized sweatshirt and jeans. We were drinking and the friend who hosted the party told me I needed to stay over because I was too drunk to drive. The next day I woke up in his bed with no pants on.”  -KU Student

Blue cropped t-shirt with star design and black athletic sweatpants, blue and white cheerleader uniform
“The first time I was wearing sweats and a t-shirt. The second time I was wearing a cheer uniform. He ripped the buttons and I had to get it altered afterwards. I hated cheer after that and quit before the season was over.”  -KU Student

Tan button down blouse, frayed black jeans, black converse sneakers

“I was wearing black converse, black skinny jeans, and tan blouse. We were sitting with friends at a bar. He kept trying to put his hands down the front of my pants. I didn’t know what to do, so I escaped to the bathroom. When I got out he was waiting for me and pushed me in to the men’s room.”  -KU Student

Yellow sundress with flower embroidery

“Probably a little sundress, that’s what I always wore. I was four years old. The worst part was it was from my brother, my own family member.”  -KU Student

Orange and white striped tee shirt, cuffed light wash jeans with holes in the knees

“A t-shirt and jeans. I was totally drunk after my first college party my freshman year. He shouldn’t have taken advantage of me being messed up like he did.”  -KU Student

Teal basketball jersey, black basketball shorts

“Black basketball shorts and a blue Grant Hill jersey. I was 11 years old. He groomed me. I had just moved to town and he was a popular kid at school. He said he’d make sure I never had another friend at school if I told anyone. I didn’t tell anyone for 10 years and when I did they asked why I wasn’t strong enough to fight him off or if I really wanted it, but never what I was wearing.”  -KU Student

White tank top with KU logo, red trim and red front pocket. Long khaki shorts.
“I was wearing khaki shorts and a cotton tank top. He convinced me to come back to his house with him after a lame date. I was told by a friend to keep the clothes I was wearing in case I decided to report it. They are still in a bag hidden in my closet.”  -KU Student

Black cross-back bra, grey underpants with white star pattern

12. ”I was wearing a black bra and grey cotton underwear. It was night swimming with a friend. I thought we were friends. I’ve always wondered if what I was wearing changed it at all.”  -KU Student

Pink v-neck sweater, navy draw string shorts

“I was wearing an oversized pink fuzzy sweater and navy pajama shorts. He was tall, strong, drunk and refused to take no for an answer. I’ve never felt safe on campus again. These experiences have made me feel like I have no value to anyone outside of being an object.”  -KU Student

Light blue cropped t-shirt with KU logo, straight cut dark wash jeans

“The first time I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. The next time, years later, I was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. I wear blue sometimes when I kickbox or when I need to be assertive. Even today I am wearing blue, because they don’t get to take my voice, my favorite color, or my ability to say no and mean it. These are mine.”

Thank you to the survivors who have shared your experiences with us. What happened to you was never your fault. We are honored by the trust you have placed in us to share your stories.

About the illustrator

Faith Maddox is a Sophomore at the University of Kansas studying English and Creative Writing. She has been a Peer Educator at SAPEC since May of 2019. After graduation, she plans to pursie a Master's degree in either Social Work or Education. Instagram: @faaithica.

HISTORY Of the Project

The “What Were You Wearing?” Survivor Art Installation originated at the University of Arkansas in 2013.  Created by Jen Brockman and Dr. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert, the project was inspired by Dr. Mary Simmerling’s poem, What I Was Wearing.  To learn more about the history of this project, visit sapec,ku.edu/what-were-you-wearing.


The poem "What I Was Wearing" inspired this gallery, but it did not give voice to the question, “What were you wearing?”   This myth is one of may pervasive narratives utilized to blame survivors and justify perpetrators.  The What Were You Wearing installation was not the first or the last to address these specific issues.  There are multiple other projects that have addressed this common rape myth. 

Recent individuals and projects include; but are not limited to:

Denim Day (1999) www.dvsac.org/denim-day

Jasmeen Patheja (2004) www.jasmeenpatheja.com/blank-noise/

Steve Connell and PAVE (2009) http://pavingtheway.net/what-she-was-wearing/ 

Salamishah Tillet (2011)  www.thenation.com/article/what-wear-slutwalk

Beckie Jane Brown (2013) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkf07Xs_pCc&list=LLuFRE88N9PRaiWbYSr1KzXw&index=326 

Christine Fox (2014) www.oxjane.com/issue/i-am-steenfox-and-i-wrote-the-tweet-what-were-you-wearing

Roy Banwell (2015) www.stillnotaskingforit.org

Kathrine Cambareri (2016) www.katcphoto.com/well-what-were-you-wearing.html

University of Oregon (2019) https://www.forestry.oregonstate.edu/wwyw/


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