Indiana Church Slut-Shames Sexual Assault Victims

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“What were you wearing?” is a common question asked of sexual harassment and sexual assault victims. Typically those victims are women, though men fall prey as well. However, one of the first things a woman who has been traumatized is asked is, “What were you wearing?” That may have been part of the impetus that drew the ire of so many women in Indiana when Emmanuel Baptist church in Indiana posted this little gem on their billboard asserting, “Stop Sexual Harrasment. Wear Clothes.”

Justification for sexual assault.

It is unclear who precisely at that church thought it was a wise idea to articulate that message, and it is as of yet unclear why they have thus far declined to comment. What is clear is the righteous outrage of women in the community.

“As a mom of two daughters, this infuriated me,” resident Allyson Condra told WLKY. “As a female myself, this infuriated me. As a human being, this infuriated me.”

“I mean, would you say that to a 6-year-old girl who has been assaulted when they wear overalls and pigtails?” resident Madilyn Shipman said to WLKY.

Last year the, “What Were You Wearing,” exhibit rightly garnered attention. Its aim was to call out the ludicrous assertion that clothing had something to do with sexual assault. That women were literally asking to be raped. Many of the pieces featured jeans or pants and T-shirts. They did not feature Daisy Duke shorts, mini skirts, and tops that leave nothing to the imagination. Why? Because victims of sexual assault did not become victims because of how they dressed or how much makeup they put on that day or any other “provocative” mode of showing up in the world. They became victims because the perpetrator had an absolute need to exert power over another human being. And just to be clear, even if women are dressed in the skimpiest outfit imaginable or walk down the street stark naked, that does not justify sexual assault. Ever.

The bottom line is that sexual assault is about power, not sex. Sexual assault is not the fault of the victim, it is the violent disrespect of the perpetrator for another human being. It is the need to assert power over one who may be physically weaker in order to be gratified. It is a weak person attempting to prove to himself he is stronger than he is.


RELATED: How $7.5 Million Almost Kept The Victim Quiet


The fact that a CHURCH felt it incumbent upon them to make excuses for harassers and rapists is mindbogglingly inexcusable. It certainly isn’t what Jesus would do. It is also a treacherous message to send to young girls and young women who may have seen it, as the message is clear: “Even the church thinks you are to blame for your assault.” That is a message that essentially conveys victims are trash and need to be thrown out.

What is difficult to comprehend is that there are many people in this world, people who associate with churches no less, who feel the need to put women and girls in the untenable position of having to simultaneously behave as “polite ladies” and defend themselves in every situation against enemies seen and unseen, against real, perceived, and plausible foes while men do not have to take an ounce of responsibility for their own actions. Regardless, defend ourselves we will, against (un)surprising enemies like a Baptist church.

Shame on them for contributing to the culture of abuse.

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