Denim Day raises sex assault awareness

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comApril 12, 2013 

An organization that advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence is looking for participants for Denim Day.

Legal advocate Reina Nino said Valley Crisis Center deals with victims regardless of sexual orientation or gender.

"We serve all couples," Nino said. "If they're a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse, we're here to help."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Denim Day is meant to support that purpose.

Supporters put on jeans as a symbol of the too-often-believed idea that some victims ask for it, Nino said.

The idea stems from a case in Italy in 1992. An 18-year-old Italian woman brought an accusation of rape against her 45-year-old driving instructor in Muro Lucano, 60 miles from Naples.

She said that during a driving lesson, he drove her to an isolated spot, forced her to get out and raped her. He contended that they had consensual sex in the car. An Italian appeals court overturned the man's 34-month sentence and gave him a new trial, stating the victim's "jeans cannot be removed easily and certainly it is impossible to pull them off if the victim is fighting against her attacker with all her force."

The case outraged many in Italy.

"There's no excuse to be sexually abused because of what you're wearing," Nino said.

One in four women will be sexually abused in their lifetime, Nino said, and the same goes for one in six men.

The day is also a chance for victims of violence to think about visiting or contacting Valley Crisis. Educating men and women about healthy relationships is important, Nino said.

The Denim Day stickers are $3 each and will benefit sexual assault victims, services, prevention and education in Los Banos and Merced. To pledge participation and buy stickers, contact Nino or Denise Rizo at (209) 725-7900.

The University of California at Merced, which has a Valley Crisis advocate on campus, plans a number of events throughout April, including a showing of "The Invisible War," a 2012 documentary about rape in the United States military. It's scheduled at 7 p.m. April 30 at Coffee Bandits, 309 W. Main St. in Merced.

The Valley Crisis Center can be found in the Police Annex, 545 J St., on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at (209) 722-4357.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

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