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A Photographer Is Showing What Women Carry To Protect Themselves From Attack

BuzzFeed News spoke to the student hoping to show the “larger reality of victim blaming".

It’s a sad reality that many women feel unsafe to walk home alone at night in fear of being attacked or sexually assaulted.

Some have resorted to carrying defensive objects, such as mace or rape whistles, to protect themselves.

It was this that led Taylor Yocom, a 22-year old photography student from the University of Iowa to create the “Guarded” project.

For her project, she photographed women holding up the items they owned to defend themselves from attack.

Taylor Yocom

Yocom told BuzzFeed News her project is a “response to rape culture".

She was inspired to start the project after she, along with women in her class, pulled out their key chains and shared what they had to keep themselves safe at night.

Many women had rape whistles and mace on their key chains.

“The men in our class were shocked,” she said. “They didn't even have to think of having these objects.”

Taylor Yocom

The women shown in the photos are all women on Yocom's college campus.

Taylor Yocom

She believes the objects they’re holding represent a “larger reality of victim blaming".

Taylor Yocom

And that they are the “physical manifestation of the realities that women have to face every day".

Yocom said she is trying to expose this problem and change our culture.

Taylor Yocom

“These loaded objects on key chains where trinkets should be really do portray how women are expected to always be on guard to protect themselves...when the rapists should not be raping,” she said.

Taylor Yocom

“I want people to see the sexual assault statistics (whether they are from strangers who attack on the streets or from date rape) as actual individuals impacted, not simply numbers.”

Taylor Yocom
Taylor Yocom

You can read more about Yocom's project here on her website.

Taylor Yocom

Rossalyn Warren is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rossalyn Warren at

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