As a woman and mother of two girls, I will always use my platforms to bring awareness to the things that affect us. Today is Denim Day, a day created to bring awareness to sexual assault and stand in solidarity with victims. The first time I heard about Denim Day was through my Sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha. I was an undergrad at California State University, Long Beach and I was so shocked by the origin story.
Here is a short version of it:
A young woman in Italy was raped by her driving instructor; she pressed charges and he was convicted. He later appealed and walked because they said that if she was wearing tight jeans, she had to have helped him take them off, which meant (according to them) that the sex was consensual.
I was so shocked, angered and almost in tears about this story. I have never forgotten this story and the impact that it had on me. Sadly, stories like hers still happen. Society blames the victim for what they wore, where they were or what they did. Victim blaming is not only unfair, it's just plain cruel to blame somebody for what happened to them while they are experiencing such a traumatic event.
I want to share a scary story that happened to me...
In college, I became quite the social butterfly. I was always ready to party, drink and dance the night away with my friends. Gabe (my husband) and I had recently started dating and he was going to school in Santa Barbara, California. My sorority sisters were having a party in Santa Barbara so I told him I'd be in town for the weekend. He was a musician at the time so we agreed to meet me at the party after his gig. I drove out there by myself, stopped by his gig to say hi and watch before going to downtown Santa Barbara for the party. I remember getting to the party and ordering a drink before walking over to hang out with my sorority sisters. While we were chatting, I noticed a man talking to the bartender and looking over in our direction. He never engaged me or anyone else (or at least I don't remember him making any moves). Later, I went to the bartender and ordered one more drink... I remember having two drinks that night and the next thing I remember is waking up. Let me tell you, back in those days, I could drink A LOT and there was absolutely no way that two drinks would have done that to me. I woke up in a fog, unable to wake up completely and feeling extremely weak. I wanted to get up and move but I just couldn't shake the feeling. It wasn't a hangover and it definitely wasn't regular morning grogginess. Luckily for me, Gabe had already agreed to meet at the party that night so I woke up safe, with him. He was upset that I had gotten so "sloppy drunk." He said that I was completely drunk, slurring my words when he got there around 11pm so we left the club. He said that I threw up and knocked out cold. I told him I only had two drinks and immediately remembered the man talking and motioning to the bartender. I came to the conclusion that the bartender slipped something in my second drink. There could really be no other explanation for what happened. I was not the type of person to accept a drink that was delivered to me and I never left my drinks unattended. Gabe soon realized that my suspicion was the only logical thing that could have happened and his mood quickly changed to concern. I felt so violated, sad, embarrassed even and a mix of so many emotions. Then, I felt extremely lucky. I could have been raped that night, I am absolutely sure that was somebody's intention. I heard sometime later that there were many reports of women being roofied in downtown Santa Barbara.
I was extremely lucky that night, I thank God that nothing happened to me and I was able to walk away from that experience unharmed. Other women have not been so lucky and I stand in solidarity with them. No means NO and there is never an invitation to rape. You can help support sexual assault survivors by donating to local efforts like Peace Over Violence here:
If you or someone you know is a victim, here are some resources:
24/7 LA Rape & Battering Hotline: 626-793-3385 310-392-8381 213-626-3393
Rape Abuse & Incest National Network National Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673