What is Denim Day and Why is it Important?

**Warning, Sensitive Material Below.**

I remember the day one of my male best friends pulled me to a secluded spot after school was over while we waited on my mom to get off of work so she could take us home.

“None of the school’s security cameras capture this spot and the walls make it so no one walking by can see us,” he had told me.

That should’ve been a red flag but I was 12 and thought I was going to get my first kiss until he told me to suck his d*ck.

I didn’t know what to do, he was taller than me by half a foot and wider than me. I told him I couldn’t because I have braces, and I’ve heard horror stories of giving a blowjob with braces. It didn’t matter to him, he pushed down on my shoulder and egged me on to do it, telling me he would love me if I did.

I pushed his hands away and ran for my mom’s classroom as fast as I could. Later that day my mom took him home and I didn’t say a word to anyone about the incident until I was 16 and my friend told me that I was sexually assaulted.

It never struck me that I was sexually assaulted because nothing happened and I had gotten away. As lucky as I was that I escaped that situation, not everyone is as lucky and that is why we celebrate Denim Day.

Photo Courtesy: Paul Smith's College

About Denim Day

Denim Day, celebrated on April 24th this year, is ran by Peace Over Violence in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

This campaign began after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction, claiming the girl’s jeans were so tight that she must have helped her rapist remove them, which implied consent.

In 1992 an 18-year-old girl was raped by her male driving instructor who was twice her age. After reporting the assault the perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted, but years later he appealed the conviction by claiming that the sex was consensual.

Photo Courtesy: Safe Alliance

“A statement from the Court argued that because the victim was wearing very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was not rape but consensual sex,” says the Denim Day website. "This became known throughout Italy as the ‘jeans alibi.’”

Women in the Italian Parliament launched a protest by wearing jeans on the steps of the Supreme Court. This protest was picked up by worldwide news coverage and was mimicked in California. The Executive Director from Peace Over Violence saw this news coverage and started Denim Day in LA in April of 1999 to protest all of the myths about why females are raped.

Photo Courtesy: Denim Day Website

How to Participate in Denim Day

The easiest way to participate is by wearing denim, but your denim shorts don’t count, it has to be full-length jeans; which isn’t a lot of fun in this hot April weather but it’s worth it.

The Denim Day website encourages those who are participating in Denim Day to register with a group of people; the more people in your group, the more awareness you’re bringing.

Photo Courtesy: Peave Over Violence

You can also download Denim Day posters to hang around your community to spread awareness.

Donating is a huge help to the cause, donations help support services for sexual assault survivors like hotlines and legal services.

If you want to keep the conversation going, take to social media with #DenimDay to spread the word.

Photo Courtesy: NBC News

You’re Not Alone

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network an American is sexually assaulted every 92 seconds “and every 9 minutes, that victim is a child. Meanwhile, only 5 out of every 1,000 perpetrators will end up in prison.”

These statistics are grim and they don’t give us much hope, but there is something you can do if you have been a victim of sexual assault.

There are websites where you can chat with someone who is trained for confidential crisis support, and if you need a phone number or want to report someone you can check out this list that gives you all the resources available in the United States.

Photo Courtesy: University of Missouri- Kansas City

Sacramento State is taking steps forward to end sexual assault by having mandatory sexual assault training for all students, psychological counseling and creating the surviving assault group.

No matter what type of sexual assault you’ve experienced, whether big or small, whether you escaped it or not, you can get help and reach out. You are not alone.

“There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape,” says the Denim Day website.