By Gwen Soriano, April 25, 2023
Victims and supporters of the sexual assault prevention movement are reminded to make both a stand and a style statement during Denim Day April 16. Participants are advised to wear denim attire as a way to express solidarity, standing with victims who did not receive justice.
According to the Los Angeles activism group “Peace Over Violence,” Denim Day started after a sexual misconduct conviction was overturned by Italy’s Supreme Court because the tightness of the victim’s jeans implied consent was involved. Since then, citizens nationwide come together to support individuals impacted by sexual violence and the lack of proper legislative action taken against offenders.
Former United States President Donald Trump will be taken to civil court April 25 on counts of defamation after he denied accusations of sexual assault recounted by advice columnist and author E. Jean Carroll. In patriarchal tradition, this country will be exposed to an influential person of power on trial for sexual misconduct the day before a survivor campaign dedicated to activism against sexual misconduct.
“When you work in a male-dominated field versus an equitable one, consent needs to be established and emphasized at all times,” said Erica Ben, the administrative support coordinator for the Ethnic and Women’s Studies department at Cal Poly Pomona.
In just this month alone, United States legal courts will be overflowing with assault cases involving influential names of Hollywood media, such as “That 70s Show” actor Danny Masterson’s sexual misconduct retrial and singer Tahliah Barnett (FKA Twigs) taking ex-boyfriend and actor Shia Lebouf to court for sexual battery.
“It saddens me that we’re still having to deal with these types of behaviors and it’s a behavior that affects everyone,” said CPP’s Survivor Advocacy Services Senior Coordinator, Rhonda E. Dixon. “It’s unfortunate that here we are, in 2023, and we’re still having to fight this fight.”
Supporters of the fight against sexual violence protest convicted offenders in the media, many of which receive minimal consequence, and stand with victims who were silenced by the system.
The rise in cases of sexual battery ever since TV producer Harvey Weinstein’s conviction highlighted this idea of hierarchical manipulation and corruption within the Hollywood entertainment industry.
Individuals can observe patterns of oppression within these judicial cases, including SAS Peer Educator and CPP student Emily Nunez, who shared how, “The abuse of power definitely plays a big role.”
Evaluating CPP’s own systems of hierarchy, it’s clear collegiate school systems also have many areas of improvement to address before ensuring safety amongst all students.
“There’s no equity on campus at all,” said Ben. “There’s no accountability as well on campus … It’s more about covering themselves than actually dealing with the issue.”
Victim reluctance is increasing, with less than 20% of assaults being reported annually. Many offenders tend to go unpunished based on outdated notions, such as the Supreme Court case in Italy. Nunez emphasized the importance of knowledge when it comes to sexual assault and the societal outcomes of victim prejudice.
“I feel like not many are educated on, consent, sexual assault, what it is, how it impacts others,” said Nunez. “These things (misinformation) are led by stereotypes, so I feel like it goes to show how society just brushes (victims) under the rug, in a way.”
The peer educator went on to explain how the SAS office strives to take different approaches that seek beneficial results when caring for assault victims. Dixon expressed similar thoughts about the successes of their office, sharing how their services focus heavily on direct victim support, offering both emotional and legal guidance.
CPP’s SAS offices “provide a confidential resource for individuals who have been impacted by sexual violence,” informed Dixon. “It is a safe space for (victims) to come to seek help with … navigating their reporting options.”
Although more and more resources are becoming available both on and off campus, many sexual assault victims may still feel uncomfortable talking to unfamiliar faces about their situation or pursuing further action.
“I am a victim of sexual abuse, so I understand the trauma that it can put on somebody and the scars that it leaves on people,” shared Ben. “We forget that we could just listen. We don’t always have to give advice because sometimes, students just want that. They just want someone to listen.”
When dealing with cases of sexual misconduct on campus, students can find alternative resources for assistance aside from the Office of Equity and Compliance, such as CPP’s Survivor Advocacy Services office.
The SAS offices are holding an array of month-long events to advocate for Sexual Assault Awareness month, such as wellness workshops, educational presentations and a hosted event for Denim Day at the East Los Angeles Women’s Center.
More information on events held by CPP’s SAS offices can be found on its website.
For those on campus who are victims of sexual assault or victim supporters seeking help, they can directly call the SAS consultation line at (909) 869-3102.
Image courtesy of Pexels
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