In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is asking businesses, organizations and individuals to wear Denim on Wednesday, April 27th in support of sexual assault survivors and to raise awareness about sexual assault misconceptions.
In 1998, a teenage girl in Italy was raped by her driving instructor. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to jail, and his case went to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome. The court overturned the original ruling stating that because the victim wore very tight jeans she had to help remove them, thereby giving consent to have sex. The case made international headlines and the young woman’s jeans became a symbol of the many misconceptions still surrounding sexual violence, such as there is a “correct” way for someone to respond during an assault and what someone wears can be an excuse for rape.
The Sheriff’s Office is asking the citizen’s of Washoe County to join the millions of others across the world in wearing Denim on this day.
According to the most recent National Violence Against Women Survey, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the United States has experienced an attempted or completed rape at some time in their lives. The Sheriff’s Office is supporting the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Violence campaign that promotes Sexual Assault Awareness in northern Nevada. “Sexual assault is an important issue throughout the country,” says Sheriff Mike Haley. “We want the public to be better informed by having an open discussion about prevention.”
The most predominant form of sexual assault in Washoe County is alcohol or drug related. “In many alcohol related sexual assaults, the perpetrator takes advantage of the victims intoxication,” said Detective Division Captain David Nikoley, “when the victim is drinking, it makes it very difficult for them to guard against an attack. It’s not the victim’s fault, even when they don’t make the safest choices.”
Andrea Sundberg, executive director of the Nevada Coalition Against Sexual Assault encourages bystander intervention. “The simple act of stepping in to help a person who needs assistance,” says Sundberg, “can help avoid a sexual assault. If you see a friend heading into a dangerous situation at a party, encourage them to leave or stay by their side.”
For more information on NRS 200.364 to 200.3784 defining sexual assault and seduction, click on http://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/NRS-200.html#NRS200Sec364.