By Nyesha Stone
When it comes to sexual assault, the victim’s choice of clothing is often criticized when in reality the reason for the assault goes far beyond something as simple as an outfit. Often, individuals—mainly women and girls—are constantly made to be aware of their clothing choices if their choices indicate “asking for it.”
No matter the circumstances, naked, clothed, drunk, sober, etc., no one deserves to be a victim of sexual assault. To bring awareness and in support of survivors of rape and sexual assault, April was named Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
Marquette University has hosted multiple events in support of survivors this month, with the final event being Denim Day on April 24. According to a press release, Denim Day originally started with the campaign Peace Over Violence. It began 19 years ago after the campaign was “triggered” by the ruling of the Italian Supreme Court.
In 1992, an 18-year-old woman accused her 45-year-old driving teacher of rape. At first, the courts decided in her favor, yet in 1998 they overturned their decision. The court stated that the woman had to have helped the driver take off her jeans because they were too tight for him to do it alone, if she was struggling to get away. The court considered it consensual sex because she “helped” him.
According to a 1999 NYT article, the court stated, “jeans cannot be removed easily and certainly it is impossible to pull them off if the victim is fighting against her attacker with all her force.”
It’s 2019 and we know this is BS. And even back then the world knew the decision was wrong.
Denim Day is so much more than just wearing jeans. It’s about standing up for all of the individual whose stories went untold, unheard and not believed. It’s a way of letting victims know that it wasn’t their fault.
“Sexual violence can happen to anyone at any time,” said Kacie Otto, Marquette’s Violence Prevention Specialist and Victim Advocate. “It doesn’t matter what they’re wearing.”
She added that Marquette is a safe place for survivors.
“If they choose to get help here, they can,” said Otto. “We believe them and they’re not alone.”
According to National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives.
The data, the people and the stories are there, we just have to start paying attention.
“It’s important to start by believing survivors,” said Otto.