“Every year in April, I wear jeans along with thousands of other sexual assault advocates, educators, and survivors on Denim Day.
In 1992, an 18-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her 45-year-old driving instructor after being picked up for her lesson. He told her he would kill her if she ever told anyone.
She eventually told her parents and they helped press charges. Years later, the Supreme Court overturned the case because the victim’s jeans were ‘too tight’ and, therefore, she must have willingly removed her jeans, making it consensual.
Enraged by the verdict and in solidarity with the victim, the women of the Italian Parliament came to work all wearing jeans in protest.
1 in 4 girls, 1 in 6 boys, and 1 in 2 transgender people experience sexual violence during their lifetime, according to the US Department of Justice. Most of these cases occur by the time a person is 18 and by people we know.
Unfortunately, so many of us have experienced this collective trauma, and yet so much of the time we suffer alone.
Although I don’t work primarily with survivors anymore, the work of sexual abuse education and prevention still holds dear to my heart. I never would have discovered paper cutting without this work.
So, teach your kids to ask for hugs and physical affection, teach them their body parts. Teach them if someone says no, it’s a solid no and they don’t need to be pushy. Teach them the power of their voice. Teach them to be kind.
Sex is a beautiful thing and there can be healthy marriage, fulfilling partnerships, pleasure, happiness, and mental stability, even after sexual abuse. And there are people who dedicate their whole lives to the work. You can find your nearest local help at RAINN.
You are believed and seen. And we are in this together.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Eva Ryan. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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‘I knocked on the door. ‘I remember everything you did to me.’ We drove from California to Texas, just so I could look him in the eye and say it.’: Sexual assault survivor fosters 26 children, ‘I want to bring them hope’
‘You’re going to do exactly what I tell you.’ He grabbed my throat. The devil was staring me in the face. Fear washed over my body.’: Young woman survives sexual assault in woods, ‘I refuse to hide. I need others to know they aren’t alone’
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