“What were you wearing?” – a project that arouses mass curiosity, sometimes unhealthy. On June 19-20, the Tyumen multicenter will display the clothes that the rape victims were wearing at the time of the crime. There were already those who considered such an idea a way to make money on someone else’s grief. However, visiting the exhibition is free, and the exposition of clothes and real stories of rape, which will be told during the event, is an initiative of the victims themselves.
Social networks, where there is a gathering of people who want to share their stories and clothes at the time of the rape, confirm: admission to the exhibition is free for everyone who is already 18 years old. Anyone who has experienced sexual or other violence and is ready to support other victims with their example can take part, everything is completely anonymous. Although some set an example to their fellow countrymen, not hiding their faces. For example, a 21-year-old Tyumen woman, Lydia Ponomareva, who is considered a local sex symbol, told how, at the age of 20, she was raped by a drunken man at home.
Victims of not only sexual violence, but also any other violence are invited to share their problems – psychological tyranny at home or at work, bullying at school or other collectives, harassment at work and in society, etc.
– No matter how terrible your personal situation may seem to you, you are definitely not alone, there are, alas, a great many victims of similar circumstances, – the organizers assure. – But each specific case deserves attention and sympathy. It is important for the participant to describe the story in detail in the first person, and as part of the project, invited speakers will read them.
– Don’t you think it’s cruel to make victims remember their experiences? – we ask the initiator of the project a psychologist-practitioner Yulia Pavlukhina.
– From practice, I know for sure how important it is for the victim to get the opportunity to “unpack” his pain! After all, many blame themselves for what happened, they are ashamed and are silent for years. Not a year, not two, but decades. It is not uncommon that only at the age of 40 a woman first tells someone that from 5 to 18 she experienced sexual violence. Think about what it’s like to live with it! The ability to free yourself from this burden is the best therapy for the victims. And even for ourselves it is a surprise how many men responded to the call to share stories of violence against themselves. Even the stronger sex is hard to carry this in itself.
– Men are often raped in Tyumen ?!
– Thanks to the Internet, any Russian-speaking user in Russia and abroad can take part in the project, and not only residents of our city. Yes, there are no fewer men who have suffered from violence than women. But we emphasize that violence is not only sexual. Any violation of personal boundaries is already violence. The same blackmail on the Internet, harassment at work and even coercion to fulfill marital duty. Therefore, on the agenda of the project we also have violence prevention in the form of lectures, discussions, art practices, and expert consultations. The work is divided into a block “before” and “after”.
“Do” is how to recognize an abuser, build personal boundaries, what a culture of consent is, how to talk with children and adolescents about sex, what to do if you are blackmailed on the Internet, and so on. And “after” – what to do, where to turn for help, who is safe to tell, the history of international experience of working with victims of violence.
– The idea, of course, from across the ocean, like the sensational #MeToo?
– The art project of the victims’ belongings was really invented back in 2013 in the United States – in the centers for the prevention of sexual violence at the Universities of Kansas and Arkansas. But for 8 years it has covered more than 50 countries of the world. Similar art therapy events have already taken place in Tashkent and St. Petersburg.
– Why clothes? Show visitors fishnets and miniskirts that provoke rapists?
– On the contrary! The purpose of the exhibition is just to dispel the myth that only those who wore overly revealing or “provocative” clothes become victims of rape. In our exposition there are “deaf” tracksuits, and paramilitary khaki clothes, and even a medical gown.
“What were you wearing?” Is the first question the police will ask if the victim has the courage to go there. The same is often asked by relatives, friends, colleagues. Such a question in itself plunges the victim into a sense of guilt, which is why we named our project that way. Let everyone see that they can rape in anything, and asking about clothes is just an attempt to shift the blame onto the victim.
As for the ethics that they talk about in connection with such an exhibition, I will reveal a secret: this is an installation, that is, the clothes worn by the victims on the day of the crime were carefully recreated from their stories and photos, but these are not the very things. We came up with another spectacular move: female anonymous revelations sent to us on the topic “how I was raped and how I lived with it” will be read by male volunteers during the event. These readings promise to be so poignant that they will help us fulfill our primary goal of showing that together we are much stronger against violence than we are individually.
“In this I was raped”