The dress, the act


Today, I threw away the dress I was wearing when I was sexually assaulted in 2016.

The dress was a cream linen number. It had a high neck, a hem line near the knee and a high, fitted waist. It was the sort of dress you wear to have tea with a relative. In fact, I’d worn it to have lunch with my great uncle.

Why didn’t I throw it away immediately?

I bought this dress as part of my new wardrobe for my first job in London which started in the summer of 2015. There was nothing remarkable about the dress. It was remarkable in the fact that it was incredibly boring. I bought several other similar dresses from a shop named Hobbs. They were work dresses that fit me and were reasonably priced.

The cream linen number was the most boring. I had to wear nude stockings with it and nude heals. It looked nice but it was a lot of effort.

I made the effort one day: Taupe, patent heals, nude stockings, an orange scarf and grey cardigan. Oh, and of course the dress. I dressed with care because I was hosting a conference I had planned for months. I was proud of the conference and my work.

The conference kicked off with an evening of speeches. The person who later assaulted me introduced himself shortly after the speeches.

He was from Mexico but knew where I was from in Indiana, very rare even in my own country. He carried a black bag with a rainbow on it and I assumed he was gay. I also assumed that my wedding ring and my talk about my step sons would make me seem unavailable.

What I learned is nothing makes you seem unavailable not even a really boring linen dress.

Why didn’t I throw it away immediately?

I wanted to “reclaim” the dress. I wanted to wear the dress again with power and forget what happened to me. I wore the dress again but I just felt shame. Shame that I didn’t see it coming, shame that I didn’t punch him instead of running to the bathroom.

The dress lived on in my closet, mocking me every time I passed by it.

Today it went in the bin. I feel a little better.


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