TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The East Texas Crisis Center along with many other organizations are raising awareness about sexual violence during Sexual Assault Awareness month.
This evening on the square jeans were hung with messages of hope, stories from survivors, and statistics having to do with sexual violence.
The event is called ‘Denim Day’ and originated in Italy in the 1990′s.
“A 17-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by her adult driving instructor and he was convicted, he went to prison; about five years later he appealed the conviction,” said Cheyenne Jones, the sexual assault program coordinator with East Texas Crisis Center. “It went all the way to the Italian Supreme Court and ultimately the Supreme Court overturned his conviction on the basis that her jeans were so tight that he couldn’t have taken them off without her help.”
Jones said that led the Italian Parliament standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, all wearing jeans in solidarity with the survivor. The story has made its way around the world and countries all over host the event to show support and raise awareness.
Tonight groups from all over East Texas were outside to provide resources to survivors and show support. One being Alpha Chi Omega from UT Tyler. According to member Beverly Luna their philanthropy is domestic violence awareness and they want to advocate with the East Texas Crisis Center.
“I think it’s really important to have people out here because it shows that we’re supporting the East Texas Crisis Center and anybody that is a survivor. It’s really important that they know we’re here to listen to their stories,” Luna said. “I’m seeing a lot of bilingual ones, I remember last semester at the candlelight vigil I saw a lot of Spanish ones and that really hit me because I was like, dang, it affects a lot of other people, too.”
There were blue jeans, white jeans, camouflage jeans, many decorated with messages.
“We’ve had jeans that are done by survivors and by supporters of survivors. The messages kind of vary. Some people it’s their story, some people it’s a message to survivors of sexual violence, but it’s all about creating awareness for sexual violence and starting to end those victim blaming behaviors that are so common, that so many survivors experience,” Jones said.
The East Texas Crisis Center provides safety, shelter and education to victims of family violence, sexual assault, dating violence and other violent crime. Jones said she and other counselors work to support those who have been affected.
“People don’t always have someone in their corner, somebody to provide them empathy, and support, and compassion during those times and so it’s really important for us that we give them a safe place to come and tell their story, talk about what happened, and feel safe,” Jones said.
For more information or resources on the center you can visit their website.