Domestic Violence Center honors Denim Day to support victims of sexual violence

Oscar Bathlazar holds up a pair of jeans that he and friend, Serigo Sevilla, left, decorated for Demin Day, held by the Domestic Violence Center, at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. The left pocket reads "U can look but u can't touch!!!"

April 26 marks Denim Day, a world-wide initiative to support survivors of sexual assault and rape and to educate the public about sexual violence.

The annual prevention campaign encourages individuals to wear jeans in solidarity with victims and survivors throughout the day.

Denim Day is a response to a 1990s Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the teenage victim wore “very, very tight jeans.”

“A young lady was raped by her driving instructor and Parliament Italy threw out the case because they claimed her jeans were so tight that she would have had to help take them out and therefore given consent,” said Leah Parker, youth prevention specialist and advocate at Domestic Violence Center (DVC) of Santa Clarita Valley.

The following day, April 26, women in Parliament stood in solidarity on the steps of the Supreme Court to support the victim.

“Since then, what people have been doing across the country and across the world is wearing denim that day,” Parker said.

For the first time, the Domestic Violence Center brought Denim Day to the College of the Canyons (COC) campus to bring awareness to sexual assault and recognize April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“We wanted to make an effort to come to COC and let people know about our services and let them know about this issue,” said Alexandra Garcia, a youth prevention specialist and domestic violence advocate at the DVC.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. students, faculty and campus visitors had the opportunity to write words of solidarity and encourage or draw artistic designs on pairs of jeans displayed on the college’s campus.

Oscar Balthazar, left, and Sergio Sevilla, right, hang up a pair of jeans they collaborated to create art on for the Denim Day booth, sponsored by the Domestic Violence Center, at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“There is some serious stuff like a quote from the Stanford case, but it can also be empowering so some people are doing more artsy stuff,” Garcia said.

Decorated jeans included images of hearts and flowers and sayings like “we stand with you,” “we support you” and “you can look but you can’t touch.”

“It’s all about showing your solidarity with any victim and survivor of sexual assault and rape,” Garcia said.  “This is our first year doing it so I think we’ll keep these jeans and display them here and at our event in October.”

Garcia also hoped that the event brought awareness to services and assistance the Domestic Violence Center and the COC Student Wellness Center can provide to those dealing with domestic violence or sexual violence.

“I don’t want them to feel pressured, but even if they’re questioning and want to talk they’re always welcome to come and talk to someone,” Garcia said.

The decorated jeans from Denim Day will also be on display at the Domestic Violence Center’s Friday fundraising event “Denim and Blues” at The Main.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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