BINGHAM FARMS –
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the U.S. have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it.
Although April is SAAM, HAVEN works year-round to aid those affected by sexual violence and works to prevent future sexual assaults. HAVEN is nationally-recognized nonprofit leader in Oakland County, promoting a world of safe, equal and accountable communities where sexual assault and domestic violence do not exist.
Julie Frawley, 52, an Oakland County resident, knows firsthand how the programs at HAVEN help. She is the survivor of a rape, which occurred in 1986.
“After experiencing the trauma of a vicious rape that occurred during a home invasion, I knew that I needed help coping,” Frawley said. “At HAVEN, I met caring individuals who helped me to heal by listening to my fears and concerns with empathy and understanding. They have helped me and other survivors of sexual assault to rediscover the strength and courage we have within us to reclaim the respect and dignity that all women deserve.”
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has declared Friday, April 26 Denim Day in Oakland County to raise awareness of victims of sexual assault. Patterson encourages Oakland County businesses, schools and local governments to participate in the campaign.
“As county executive and former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the emotional and physical toll of sexual assault on its victims,” Patterson said. “Denim Day is a very visible way to take a stand against rape.”
Patterson has also declared Denim Day a special casual day for county employees. Those who work in participating county departments may wear jeans to work on Friday, April 26 for a $1 donation. Funds raised that day will go to HAVEN, which is organizing the fifth annual Denim Day locally.
“Denim Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to raise awareness throughout the community about the horrible crime of rape and sexual assault,” said Beth Morrison, president and CEO of HAVEN. “Rape does not discriminate – it impacts all segments of our community and therefore the entire community needs to become aware and take a stand.”
HAVEN urges readers to support sexual assault survivors and take the opportunity this month to take action against this horrific and preventable crime. You can make a donation to HAVEN. Talk about healthy sex with your sexual partners and friends. Encourage your employer to support Oakland County’s Denim Day on April 26. Be there for someone who might be struggling through an unhealthy relationship. If you or someone you know needs help, contact HAVEN’s Crisis and Support Line at 1-877-922-1274. Visit http://www.haven-oakland.org for more information.
About Denim Day
In 1997, a 17-year-old girl in Rome, Italy was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her first lesson. An hour later he abandoned her in an alley after raping her. She reported the incident and the case was prosecuted. The driving instructor was convicted of rape and sent to prison. A year later, the driving instructor appealed his sentence. The Italian Supreme Court overturned his conviction. In a statement released by the chief judge, he said, “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, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Parliament building. Since then, annual Denim Days to protest sexual violence and to raise awareness have been organized throughout the U.S.