Denim Day raises sexual assault awareness

 

Local leaders, state representatives and survivors of sexual assault gathered for a “Denim Day” rally April 25 to bring awareness to sexual assault.

The rally was held at the Decatur Square in downtown Decatur and hosted by Women In the NAACP.
State Rep. Pam Stephenson, DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson and DeKalb Solicitor General Donna Coleman Stribling attended the rally.

Stribling said she spent several of her professional years overseeing cases of sexual assault and abuse.
“The biggest asset that we have is that we can always educate each other on what sexual assault is. Even by just talking to each other about what proper commentary to make,” said Stribling.

As a prosecutor, Stribling said she’s spent nearly a decade working with victims of sexual assault. She said people can take a stand in a small way by speaking up and holding others accountable.

“Rape is not a laughing matter and the belief that how someone is dressed allows them to be a victim, that is simply not acceptable,” Stribling said. “Take that first step. If you hear someone making a comment or making a joke that seems improper, just say, ‘hey think about if someone said that to your child, wife or husband.’”

A DeKalb County proclamation regarding the event was presented by Stephenson.

The Denim Day rally by Women In the NAACP was the second annual event, however, the national Denim Day rally started in April 1999.

In Rome, Italy, in 1992, a 45-year-old driving instructor was accused of rape when he picked up an 18-year-old girl for her first driving lesson. He allegedly raped the girl for an hour then told her that if she told anyone he would kill her.

The 45-year-old was convicted of rape, but later appealed the conviction. The conviction was overturned in 1998 because the court argued the victim wore tight jeans and she must have had to help her attacker remove her jeans, making the act consensual.

The movement coincides with national Sexual Violence Awareness month in April.

“As we take the steps to stop sexual assault, not just girls, but young men too, we will let [victims] know that we will have their back over and over again and whenever they call, we will be there,” Stephenson said.

Sexual assault survivor and sexual assault awareness advocate Sabrina Kirkland shared a poem telling her personal story of surviving her attacker. The poem outlined the emotional scars of being abused.

Kirkland said her abuse lasted for eight years from the age of 8 to 16.

“Each rape left a stain, each rape left embarrassment and shame,” Kirkland said, reading from her poem.

“Each rape left hopelessness and degradation. Each rape left tears and open wounds.”

Women In the NAACP set up a gofundme account, WIN Denim Day, to help support survivors of sexual assault.

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