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‘What Were You Wearing?’ exhibit showcases the outfits victims were wearing at time of sexual assault

By Hannah McDonald

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    NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WTVF) — A thought-provoking exhibit in West Nashville features clothing that rape survivors wore when they were attacked.

“You’re seeing an exhibit of clothes from middle-aged women, teens, children. There is a kindergartner’s outfit in this exhibit,” said Danielle Pyle, a rape survivor.

The clothing at the ‘What Were You Wearing?’ exhibit represents the actual clothing survivors of rape say they were wearing at the time of the assault. The point is to showcase that rape can happen no matter what someone is wearing.

The Sexual Assault Center (SAC) is behind the free, two-day exhibit at Fat Bottom Brewing.

This past legislative session, SAC and advocates fought for Tennessee’s months-long rape kit testing process to be overhauled.

“We didn’t pass a bill for expedited rape kits,” Pyle said.

Pyle is disappointed the state legislature didn’t take action this year.

“My rape kit — it’s been two years, almost to the day, and I don’t know where my rape kit is. I don’t know if it’s ever been tested,” Pyle said.

Pyle was attacked before the state began requiring that kits have a bar code on them so they can be tracked.

She knows the clothing exhibit may be viewed by some as over the top, but she thinks it’s spot on.

“It’s meant to be this thing that you have a little discomfort with. It makes you think,” Pyle said.

The survivor hopes state lawmakers pay the exhibit a visit.

“I think they need to see that these are the types of people we’re worried about and want to prevent from this. And it should light a fire to make sure that we never have an opportunity to do an exhibit like this ever again because we’ve solved the problem,” she said.

At the grand opening of the exhibit, people were encouraged to wear denim to stand against victim-blaming. Denim Day, which is April 26 this year, recognizes a woman whose attacker’s sentence was overturned because it was argued her jeans were so tight it must have been consensual.

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