SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In Utah, one in five women and one in 25 men experience rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, according to the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA). Due to shame, guilt, and social stigma, many of the victims never come forward. In fact, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in Utah, 88% of sexual assaults go unreported.
“They know it’s not safe. They know they won’t be believed,” said Gill, “they know, sadly, because of our collective failure, that the trauma of reporting is greater than the assault itself.”
According to UCASA, “Denim Day” was created because of a court ruling in the 1990s in Italy, when the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the judge believed the victim must have helped remove her own jeans since they were so tight. The following day, women in the Italian Parliament wore jeans in solidarity with the survivor. The movement then spread across the globe.
Advocates say the prevalence of sexual violence, and a culture that tends to protect perpetrators instead of victims is why events like this one are so critical, even decades after the court ruling.
“To the survivors that are here to the survivors that are listening, we believe you, we are here for you, it’s not your fault, and help is available. Please reach out,” said Liliana Olvera-Arbon, the Executive Director of UCASA.