It’s an unfortunate reality that victims of sexual assault are sometimes asked what they were wearing—”asking for it,” goes the horrible cliche. Photographer Katherine Cambareri wanted to tackle this form of victim blaming head-on, and so she created a photo set called “Well, What Were You Wearing?” in which she photographed what victims were wearing at the time of their assault.
“I want people to think about victim blaming and how asking, ‘What were you wearing?’ is not a valid question,” Cambareri told Motto. “A person’s choice of clothing is never a reason to sexually assault someone, and the stereotype that victims are always wearing revealing clothing at the time of their assault is not true.”
Cambareri’s photos feature everything from floral tank tops to sweatpants and dirty sneakers. “Sexual assault does not only happen to people who dress a certain way, in a certain style or wear a certain size,” she said.
The photographer said that her photos have gotten a mostly positive response. “I’ve had many survivors of sexual assault all over the world contact me either wanting to be a part of this project or thanking me for this doing this project and getting people to talk about this uncomfortable topic,” she said. “It has been extremely rewarding knowing that I’ve been able to give a voice to sexual-assault survivors.”
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Cambareri added that some people responded with speculation, saying that she might have selected only the modest outfits for her project and excluded victims who were wearing revealing clothing. She told Motto that this wasn’t the case: “I have photographed all of the items I have received thus far and plan on continuing this project and including more clothing.”
See some of Cambareri’s photos below, and read more about the project on her personal website.