April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a chance to educate ourselves and others about sexual assault. Wednesday April 25th is Denim Day, a chance to wear jeans in support of sexual assault survivors. Denim Day started in 1999 in protest of a rape case in Italy where a survivor’s jeans were used as a sign of consent because she had to help remove them. Denim Day is a chance to educate ourselves and others about common myths and misconceptions around sexual assault and challenge those myths.
What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault can refer to many different things. It is any sexual contact or behavior that happens without explicit consent. Consent is permission or an agreement to do something or allow something to happen. When it comes to sexual activity, consent means that any person involved has agreed, or consented, to the sexual activity. Someone must give consent for any sexual activity so sexual assault may include unwanted touching, unwanted sexual acts, or attempting any of these things without consent.
Is consent only important when it comes to sex?
Sometimes people think they only need consent when it comes to sex but consent is needed for other physical contact too. It is important to ask for consent before hugging, touching, or kissing someone, even if it’s a friend. People have different levels of comfort around physical touch. People also may have different boundaries when it comes to sharing information. If someone shares something personal with you, it’s important to ask their consent before sharing that information. Not getting their consent could break their trust. It is also a good idea to ask for consent when it comes to sharing things online or on social media. Some people may not want photos of them to be shared online or may not want to be tagged in some photos. It’s always easier and better to ask for permission first, than break someone’s trust or hurt their feelings!
When it comes to consent, only yes means yes!
Remember, a lack of response or a no does not mean yes. Only a yes means yes. Consent must be freely given by someone who is sober and not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and can be removed at any time. It is also helpful to pay attention to someone’s body language and tone. Consent should be enthusiastic. If someone is hesitant or does not sound sure, it is best to wait or check in with them again. Nothing other than a yes counts a consent. From sex to sharing on social media, if someone has said yes to something before, that does not mean you have consent to do it again. What someone is wearing or how they are acting also does not count as consent.
How Can I Celebrate Denim Day?
- Wear jeans. People around the world will be wearing jeans on April 25th in support of Denim Day!
- Check out these 15 ways to challenge rape culture.
- Share facts about sexual violence to help spread knowledge.
- If you or someone you know is the victim of sexual assault, check out these resources:
Loveisrespect.org or call 1-866-331-9474
Rainn.org or call 1-800-656-4673
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This blog was reposted from TeenSource.org, a project of Essential Access Health. TeenSource.org is an online hub for comprehensive and teen-friendly information on birth control, STDs, relationships and teen’s rights to accessing sensitive services. The site features youth-developed blogs and videos, a clinic finder, a Condom Access Project and links to TeenSource social media where youth can stay updated on relevant sexual and reproductive health information and news.