Victims of sexual assault and their friends told their stories on t-shirts displayed on the Mall yesterday to mark Denim Day, a day to show support to those who have suffered or encountered sexual harassment.
“We’re here to bring awareness to sexual assault, and we have banded together to wear jeans as a statement on Denim Day,” said Health Center intern Andrea Evangelista.
Colorful t-shirts were provided to students who wanted to share their assault story whether it is a rape, sexual assault, or harassment with their peers to demonstrate that such things can happen to anyone.
Once finished writing on a t-shirt, students were able to hang their decorated t-shirts on a line dry position with many others that decorated the campus Mall. The t-shirts shared different stories, yet were all connected to sexual assault.
Students participating in or viewing the exhibit of t-shirts were given a small blue whistle that they could attach to their keys, giving them a tool to call attention if they ever find themselves in a situation that they are not sure how to handle.
Denim Day in is a rape prevention education campaign across the United States in which community members, elected officials, businesses and students make a social statement with by wearing jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault.
“People assume that it is what the person is wearing, that causes them to become victims,” Michelle Borsco, sociology major, said.
Denim Day started in Italy of the 1990’s, when an 18-year-old girl was raped by her driving instructor on her first driving lesson.
After pressing charges for the rape, the case was judged at the Italian Supreme Court, and the driving instructor was found innocent because the judge said that, since the girl was wearing tight jeans, she would have had to help the instructor remove them from her, which meant the sexual interaction was not a rape.
With a matter of hour, the community began to protest by making a statement when wearing jeans to work.
Interns to the Health Center from California State University of Northridge as well as Pierce College united with Campus Violence Response Team (CVRT), lead by Holly Hogan, the Pierce Bookstore’s textbook buyer, to bring awareness to sexual assault, and let students who have been victims of violence or know someone who has know that “they are not alone,” said April E. Henry, political science major.
The team began setting up at 8:30 a.m., and stayed available to answer students’ questions until 3:30 p.m., handing out pamphlets from the Student Health Center and CVRT.
Students also received handouts from The Way of No Way, which is a Survival Seminar that provides self-defense dedicated to women, and a supporting survivors information sheet for students to know how to help those they know that have been victims.
The Way of No Way recommends the following to friends of victims of assault:
If a friend tells you, “ I was raped”…
1. Believe your friend.
2. Listen to your friend.
3. Don’t blame your friend.
4. Ask before you touch.
5. Help your friend explore options.
6. Don’t ignore your own well-being.
According to statistics made by The Way Of No Way,
1. One in four women in the U.S will be raped during their college years.
2. Somewhere in America, A woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes.
3. 17.6% of women in the U.S have survived a completed or attempted rape.
“I was saddened to read some of [the t-shirts], but I believe that the students who shared their stories do it, in a way, to help others, and that is something that not many are capable to do,” Pierce student Randy Zamora said.
The Health Center provides help and resources to Pierce students every April on Denim Day, and in October during Domestic Awareness Month, Hagan said.
Students who would like to receive help or support with having gone through a sexual assault, or know someone who has been a victim, and do not know how to be supportive can make an appointment with the Pierce College Health Center by calling (818) 710-4270 or visiting the office located in the second floor at Student Services Building.