By Ashley Wilson
Special to The PREVIEW
April 29 is Denim Day. Every year, Rise Above Violence hosts a walk around main street where community members come out to support victims and survivors of sexual assault. Businesses around town typically participate by allowing employees to wear jeans to work if they pay $5, all of which supports the survivors in our community.
Last year, we had record numbers: 58 people came out and joined us for our awareness walk, we had nine businesses participate and raised over $700. We are so thankful for the support of our community on important days like Denim Day.
This year, we are asking for your support in a different way. On April 29, please join with us in a virtual event for Denim Day. Head over to the Rise Above Violence Facebook page and share pictures of yourself in denim. Once you do, you can enter our drawing. We will have a prize that will be drawn at the end of the day. If you post a video of yourself taking a walk in your jeans, you will get two entries. We have an event page set up and want to see everyone in their jeans. Caption your photo “I wear jeans …” to support survivors, for a friend, for myself, for all the women who are silent, for all the child victims, etc.
So, what is Denim Day exactly?
According to http://denimdayinfo.org/about/, “For the past 19 years, the Denim Day campaign has been held on a Wednesday in April in honor of Sexual Violence Awareness Month. The campaign 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 must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. The Denim Day campaign was developed by Peace Over Violence in response to this case and the activism surrounding it.
“Since then, wearing jeans on Denim Day has become a symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. In this rape prevention education campaign, we ask community members, elected officials, businesses and students to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans on this day as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.”
In Pagosa Springs, Rise served 40 victims of sexual assault in 2019. National statistics are that one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives (https://www.nsvrc.org/statistics). That is one victim of sexual assault every 73 seconds in the United States. But, the good news is that prevention is possible, and it’s happening — individuals, communities and the private sector are already successfully combating the risk of sexual violence through conversations, programs, policies and research-based tools that promote safety, respect and equality. By promoting safe behaviors, thoughtful policies and healthy relationships, we can create safe and equitable communities where every person is treated with respect. Rise would like to join you and the community as being part of this change for Pagosa.
Rise Above Violence Youth prevention programs focus on respect, healthy relationships and understanding consent. These are important conversations to have with the young people in our community — really, with all people in our community — so that we can change the conversation. Rise would love to focus less on crisis response and more on prevention and promotion of healthy relationship values. Raise your voice in our community around these issues. Silence is what perpetuates the problem.
Rise is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. It serves victims and survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes in Archuelta County. For 24/7 crisis support, please call 264-9075 to talk with an advocate. If you or someone you know needs help dealing with violence, please call.
By Ashley Wilson