Denim day awareness empowers victims and survivors of sexual assault

Students, faculty, and staff of Pierce College participated in the annual Denim Day on April 27, 2016 through the Clothesline Project.

Survivors and victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and rape, wrote their experiences or words of encouragements to anyone who may be in the same position as them on t-shirts for the Clothesline Project to raise awareness.

There were different color t-shirts that represented different types of sexual assault and sexual violence. These shirts were hung around The Mall on April 27, in honor of Denim Day.

Leeana Solorzano nursing major, was one of the students who approached the booth and wrote about her experience from her previous relationship which she ended a month ago.

“We went out on a cold day and then he just became sexually aggressive suddenly and he always wanted sexual stuff and I told him I’m not comfortable doing that in our relationship, but he always pushed it and he started hitting me,” Soloezano said.

“I stayed for a while [in the relationship] and my best friend was telling me that I can’t stay in this because it’s toxic and that what he’s doing is not out of love, but out of selfishness. At first I told her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, that she doesn’t know him,” Solorzano said.

Kathy Oborn, criminal justice professor and PTK adviser, brought the Denim Day awareness at Pierce in 2002 while the Clothesline Project was started by Holly Hagan in 2008. Hagan is a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

For Hagan, Denim Day is important to raise awareness that, not just the victims of sexual assault and violence, but everyone, is not alone.

“It always is helpful when you know that you’re not the only one. My message is that everything that you go through as a person, the bad things, are what make you grow and make you become a better person,” Hagan said.

According to Dr. Earic Dixon-Peters, Pierce College’s vice president, everyone has a role in raising awareness and preventing sexual assaults and violence.

“Not just the awareness is important, but the prevention of it. I think we all have a role to play in it by not just being bystanders, not just sitting and doing nothing,” Dixon-Peters said. “This has become a national topic and this topic does not just affect women but everyone.”

Professor and Adviser for History Sheryl Nomelli supports the Denim Day awareness and even notified her students about it.

“I wore the tightest jeans in my closet today because I totally support this idea of being out there and educating ourselves and others about sexual assault,” Nomelli said.