East Texans to participate in National Day of Action

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Information from Contact Brooke Wyatt with the East Texas Crisis Center:

TYLER, TX - Every two minutes in the U.S. a person is sexually assaulted. Majority of the assaults occur before the survivor or victim's 18th birthday. Spreading awareness and having resources available to our community is a key element in reducing sexual violence. Folks form the East Texas Crisis Center, Tyler P.D., M.A.D.D, Children's Advocacy Center, and C.A.R.E from UT Tyler will be participating in "National Day of Action" for Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention. The event will take place Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Tyler's downtown square. Event participants will also be promoting, "Denim Day" which takes place nationally Wednesday, April, 21st.

Annual "Denim Day" Illuminates Injustice for Survivors of Sexual Assault
In 1992, an 18-year old Italian girl was picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first driving lesson. He took her to an isolated road, pulled her out of the car, wrestled her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully raped her. Threatened with death if she told anyone, he made her drive the car home. Later that night she told her parents, who supported her and helped her press charges. The perpetrator was arrested and prosecuted. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.

The driving instructor appealed the sentence and the case made it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor was overturned, dismissed, and the perpetrator released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex."  Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly to do the same, which in turn spread to the Los Angeles organization Peace Over Violence, and Denim Day was born.

The East Texas Crisis Center will acknowledge Denim Day as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month this Wednesday, April 21st, as we encourage other member's of the community to do the same by wearing jeans on this day!  According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, sadly, less than 20 percent of sexual assaults are ever reported to the police.

The East Texas Crisis Center is a non-profit agency based in Tyler that serves Smith, Woods, Rains, Van Zandt, and Henderson counties.  The center is committed to providing safety, shelter and education to victims of family violence, sexual assault and other violent crime and to restore dignity and purpose in their lives while promoting public compassion and awareness to reduce violence in the community.  The East Texas Crisis Center Hotline number is 1-800-333-0358.  Interested persons may also visit the East Texas Crisis Center website at www.etcc.org.  All services are confidential.