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    Denim Day 2018 raises awareness of sexual assault prevention with visual protest

    Denim Day 2018 raises awareness of sexual assault prevention

    Photo By Laurie Pearson | Denim pockets, decorated by participants in "Reclaiming Denim-Denim Day Workshop" are...... read more read more

    BARSTOW, CA, UNITED STATES

    04.12.2018

    Story by Laurie Pearson 

    Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow

    Denim Day will allow participants to protest sexual assault in a visual way, aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., April 25.
    “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Denim Day is a call to action for all people to come together by wearing denim as a visible sign of protest against sexual violence,” said Michelle Lawing, Installation Sexual Assault Prevention and Response coordinator. “By participating in Denim Day this April, you can play a role in the prevention of sexual violence. Every year this rape prevention education campaign asks community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.”
    Denim Day was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she consented to the sexual encounter, explained Lawing. The rape took place in 1992 when a 45-year-old driving instructor picked up an 18-year-old girl for her driving lesson, he allegedly raped her for an hour and then threatened to kill her if she told anyone. She told her parents anyway and they pressed charges. The man was convicted and sentenced, but in 1998 the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. The implication was that she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.
    Women in the Italian Parliament came to work the following day wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
    “The Italian 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,’” Lawing explained. “In April 1999, a social service agency in Los Angeles established the first Denim Day in the United States. Denim Day was developed in response to this case and wearing jeans during this annual event has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault.”
    As of 2008, the Italian Supreme Court has overturned their findings, and there is no longer a "denim" defense to the charge of rape.
    What is sexual assault and the potential impacts?
    Sexual assault is defined as intentional sexual contact characterized by use of force, physical threat, or abuse of authority, or when the victim does not or cannot consent. Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault (unwanted, inappropriate sexual contact or fondling), or attempts to commit these acts.
    “A victim of sexual assault can be traumatized by the event for years and possibly the rest of
    their life, especially without counseling,” said James Maher, Behavioral Health section head. “I have seen people, as adults, who were sexually assaulted as teenagers and younger still dealing with the aftermath and many have overwhelming rage that comes out in different ways, sometimes putting them at risk (recklessness) or in trouble with the law. Many turn to alcohol or drugs for self-soothing or to "drown out" the memories. The sexual assault offender may not know or care what happens to the victim after a SA, but the violation of trust, especially when it is someone the victim knows, the fear of it occurring again and the shame that victims carry with them many times (even when they had no control over the event or were in any way responsible) is very damaging to one's sense of self and it can make it very difficult to establish new relationships in the future.”
    Common misconceptions about rape and other forms of sexual assault?
    1. Sexual assault is most often committed by strangers.
    Approximately 82 percent of reported sexual assaults are committed by someone known by the survivor, including friends, family members, acquaintances, dating partners, and common-law or married partners.
    2. Sexual assault can't happen to me or anyone I know.
    Sexual assault can happen to anyone. People of all identities such as gender, culture, religion and socio-economic status can be survivors of sexual assault. Statistically, young women, Aboriginal women, other women of color, transgender women and women with disabilities are at the highest risk - especially women with a combination of these traits.
    3. Sexual assault is most likely to happen outside in dark, dangerous places.
    The majority of sexual assaults happen in private spaces such as a residence or private home.
    4. A spouse or significant other cannot sexually assault their partner.
    Sexual assault can occur in a marriage or other intimate partner relationships. The truth is, sexual assault occurs ANY TIME there is no consent for sexual activity. Being in a relationship does not exclude the possibility of, or justify sexual assault. A person has the right to say "no" at any time and to anyone.
    5. Sexual assault only happens to women.
    The majority of sexual assaults are committed against women by men, but people of all genders and from all backgrounds have been or can be sexually assaulted.
    6. Men are rarely sexually assaulted.
    Estimates show that one in eight men will experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime. Sexual violence can happen to anyone, including men.
    7. If you got aroused or got an erection or ejaculated, you must have enjoyed it.
    It is normal for your body to react to physical stimulation. Just because a person became physically aroused does not mean that they liked it, wanted it or consented in any way. If someone experiences some physical pleasure, this does not mean that the sexual abuse didn't happen or negate any post-traumatic feelings or emotions.
    8. If the survivor didn't say no, it must be their fault.
    People who commit sexual assault are trying to gain power and control over a person. They want to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the person to say no. A person does not need to actually say the word "no" to make it clear that they do not want to participate. For example, body language can convey that the person does not want to participate.
    What can you do to help the cause?
    “Teaching awareness to the younger generation is critical,” Lawing said. “Teaching what SA is, what consent is, and what respect means. People think of SA as this taboo topic, but it needs to be talked about. Teens, especially, need to learn what constitutes SA and how to protect themselves. They need to learn to protect others from being potential victims, as well.”
    Another thing that people can do to raise awareness about SA is participate in Denim Day. By doing so, you promote prevention through education to reduce SA.
    “It encourages institutional and societal change and it makes a powerful statement without ever saying a word,” Lawing explained. “I believe it helps victims see that there are resources, be it a person or a program, that they can reach out to for help.”
    For further information, to get involved, or to request assistance, contact Behavioral Health at (760) 577-6533. Additional sources for assistance are the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Support Line which is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week at (760) 577-6036, and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline at (877) 995-5247, or the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website, www.RAINN.org.

    In-set boxes for stats….
    Statistics:
    • 59% were acquaintances
    • 34% were family members
    • 7% were strangers to the victim
    Facts:
    • Younger people are the highest risk.
    • Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
    • Those age 65 and older are 92% less likely than 12-24 year olds to be a victim of rape or sexual assault, and 83% less likely than 25-49 year olds.
    -30-

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.12.2018
    Date Posted: 04.12.2018 12:54
    Story ID: 272817
    Location: BARSTOW, CA, US 

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