Advocates raises awareness about sexual assault for Denim Day

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Advocates Crisis Support Services, a Craig organization that aids victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, is recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month by encouraging business to celebrate Denim Day Wednesday.

The nonprofit suggested businesses across the community allow their employees to wear jeans for Denim Day to address the problem of sexual assault and victim blaming, said Sharon Farquhar, executive director of Advocates.

Sexual violence “is not something that goes away by ignoring it,” she said.

Denim Day is an internationally recognized awareness-raising event that recalls a 1997 Italian Supreme Court case. A judge overturned a rape case because he said the victim must have consented because her jeans were tight and difficult to take off. This verdict outraged women in the Italian parliament who then protested, leading a phenomenon that still resonates with victims of sexual violence across the world today, Farquhar said.

Denim Day now is a great way for an already jean-loving community to show support for an important cause, she said.

“I always think of jeans as … a nice way to find a meaningful way to support the message,” Farquhar said. “I really like the message that it captured.”

Farquhar suggested she wished she could do even more awareness-raising events, but the small staff at Advocates forces them to prioritize. Those priorities are to assist the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. While they provide services to a fraction of those who actually deal with sexual violence, Advocates remains busy, Farquhar said. She said that only 20 to 50 percent of sexual assaults are reported. In 2013, Advocates responded to 14 reported sexual assaults in Moffat County, she said.

Even with a small staff, the Advocates team has been effective, said Patty Maradiegue de Wagner, Latina outreach coordinator for Advocates.

“We really do work amazingly well together,” she said.

Farquhar agreed.

“We’re small, but we’re mighty,” she said.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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