In 1998, a teenage girl in Italy was raped by her driving instructor. The girl was held down on the ground by the instructor and was threatened with harm to herself and her brothers. He was tried and convicted and sentenced to jail, and his case went to the Supreme Court of Appeals in Rome. The court overturned the original ruling stating that because the victim wore very tight jeans she must have had to help remove them, thereby giving consent to have sex.
The case made international headlines and the young woman’s jeans became a symbol of the many misconceptions still surrounding sexual violence, such as there is a “correct” way for someone to respond during an assault and what someone wears can be an excuse for rape.
We all respond to traumatic events in different ways. When something traumatic happens, each of us has a natural instinct as to what we need to do to survive and there is no right or wrong reaction. The reaction may range from composure to anxiety, depression, flashbacks, shock, denial and sometimes suicidal feelings. Despite the myth, rape has very little to do with what a person wears or a person’s uncontrollable sexual passion or urge. Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence and control that stem from a person’s determination to exercise power and control over another.
The most beneficial help a survivor of a sexual assault can get is counseling. Whether it was an incident that happened as a child, or as an adult, The Haven Family Shelter can help. Free counseling is offered to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. For more information please call 325-597-7644 and speak to an advocate.
Please join The Haven on Wednesday, April 23 for Denim Day.