Sexual assault survivors and poets share stories on Denim Day
COLORADO SPRINGS – This year’s Denim Day falls on Wednesday, April 28. This is an opportunity for people to show solidarity with survivors of sexual assault by wearing jeans.
The global campaign began in 1999, following a decision by the Italian Supreme Court that overturned a rape conviction in 1992. A 45-year-old driving instructor was sentenced to prison for violating a 18-year-old girl then appealed against the conviction. One reason contained in the court statement overturning the decision said the victim was wearing tight jeans at the time, which could not be easily removed. He went on to say that the girl must have helped take off her jeans and in doing so it was considered consensual sex.
The women of the Italian Parliament were furious at this decision. To protest the “jeans alibi”, they wore jeans to work. The movement spread overseas, and a Los Angeles nonprofit called Peace Over Violence began hosting Denim Day. “Denim Day is a protest. It’s an active and active revolution… where we come together, honor survivors and talk about sexual assault awareness and ending rape culture. No matter what. you wear, how good your clothes are, there is no excuse or reason for a sexual assault, ”said Ashley Cornelius, Co-Director of Poetry719.
Poetry719 is a community group of black creators that aims to raise the voice of marginalized communities through creative self-expression and art. Due to the pandemic, the group has switched to a virtual platform. “During destruction or grief, art is a method of creation. It is healing,” Cornelius said.
Cornelius said the group had open mic parties dedicated to Denim Day, and 2021 was no different, other than being online. “Talking about the unspeakable. We’re told not to talk about it, we’re told to hide it, not to mention it. A lot of people say, no, this is not the place. And so, we ‘ The place is every time, everywhere, in spaces where that person feels comfortable, ”Cornelius said.
Cornelius said she suffered sexual assault in her lifetime. “For a long time I was like, ‘Oh, that wasn’t that bad. I mean, it wasn’t as bad as this person. ‘ So a lot of times we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to cry, cry, name it. And so, it feels good to use events like this to say it, ”Cornelius said.
Susan Peiffer is attending Poetry719 and plans to read some of her poetry at the Denim Day open mic party. She is a sexual abuse survivor and said sharing her story was “a claim. It’s a position of power. It’s taking back my name, taking back my body.”
According to the 2015 Centers for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partners and Sexual Violence Survey, one in five American women has experienced attempted rape or rape in her lifetime. Nationwide, nearly half of women and about a quarter of men have experienced some form of contact sexual violence. “That’s most of the people you know,” Cornelius said.
News5 also spoke with Rica Molet, the community engagement manager at TESSA in Colorado Springs. Molet said the victim’s shame can lead to further traumatization of people and shared pieces of his own story with sexual assault. “It’s really a question, okay, who do I trust enough to tell this story?” And then, what steps do I need to take to feel comfortable in my own skin again? said Molet.
Molet said TESSA has many programs ready to help people who have experienced sexual assault.
The Poetry719 website has a Zoom meeting ID and password displayed, so anyone can log into the Denim Day virtual open mic party. It starts at 6:30 p.m. on April 28.
If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the TESSA 24 hour security line at (719) 633-3819.