Denim Day

Denim day

I feel compelled to take a moment out of my time spent at Camp (NaNoWriMo) to give a shout out about something that’s near and dear to my heart.

The fourth Wednesday of April marks Denim Day. What is Denim Day you ask? It’s a day people across the nation are encouraged to wear jeans to bring awareness to rape and sexual assault.

The history of Denim Day began in Rome when in 1992 a 45-year-old driving instructor raped an 18-year-old girl after he picked her up for her first driving lesson. He told her that if she told anyone he would kill her. Thankfully, she told her parents which resulted in charges being pressed against the man.

He was convicted and sentenced, but when he appealed to the Italian Supreme Court, the conviction was overturned in 1998. Are you ready to hear why?

Because she wore tight jeans.

The Supreme Court ruled that, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them…and by removing the jeans…it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”  The Supreme Court stated in its decision, “it is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.” The Italian Supreme Court has since overturned their findings and the denim defense to rape is no longer used.

In the last several years, Denim Day has been organized as an international symbol of protest against misguided attitudes about rape and sexual assault. As of this writing, there are 5,027,843 registered participants according to the Denim Day website. Maybe you want to make it 5,027,844?

Consider wearing jeans with me on Wednesday, April 29th, 2015, to raise awareness and educate others on rape and sexual assault.

I know I, for one, will be proudly sporting jeans on Wednesday. Join me?

bluejeans

 

 

 

Victim Power!

 

SAAM Ribbon

April is an important month where I work and one that makes me proud to be doing the work that I do. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 19-25.

Today was the day the County Commissioners read a Proclamation recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) gave some powerful statements and scenarios I would like to share with you. He urged those in attendance to change the way we view sexual assault. Society’s focus is frequently on the victim–what could the victim have done differently, what was the victim wearing, if the victim was drinking, etc. You get the picture. Following are some of the scenarios he gave:

Scenario #1:  You’re at a football game, standing in line to get a beer and wearing your team’s jersey. Someone comes from behind and tackles you. What if the answer to your call for help was, “Well, you were drinking and wearing your team jersey. What did you expect?”

Scenario #2:  You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed and thrown around. You have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The cops are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Scenario #3:  You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress comes over and asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more and engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

As one who has been a victim of sexual assault, these scenarios empowered me and gave me a sense of victory. And for one who works with victims of crime, they gave me pride to be doing the work I do. We can rise above our circumstances and life events. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down, but rather we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale