County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has declared Friday, April 26 Denim Day in Oakland County to raise awareness of victims of sexual assault. Patterson encourages Oakland County businesses, schools, and local governments to participate in the campaign.
“As county executive and former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand the emotional and physical toll of sexual assault on its victims,” Patterson said. “Denim Day is a very visible way to take a stand against rape.”
Patterson has also declared Denim Day a special casual day for county employees. Those who work in participating county departments may wear jeans to work on Friday, April 26 for a $1 donation. Funds raised that day will go to HAVEN, an Oakland County organization that assists victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. HAVEN organized the fifth annual Denim Day locally.
“Denim Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to raise awareness throughout the community about the horrible crime of rape and sexual assault,” said Beth Morrison, president and CEO of HAVEN. “Rape does not discriminate – it impacts all segments of our community and therefore the entire community needs to become aware and take a stand.”
Julie Frawley, 52, an Oakland County resident, supports Denim Day and HAVEN. She is the survivor of a rape which occurred in 1986. Patterson was the county prosecutor at the time. His office won a guilty verdict that sent Frawley’s attacker to prison for life.
“After experiencing the trauma of a vicious rape that occurred during a home invasion, I knew that I needed help coping,” Frawley said. “At HAVEN, I met caring individuals who helped me to heal by listening to my fears and concerns with empathy and understanding. They have helped me and other survivors of sexual assault to rediscover the strength and courage we have within us to reclaim the respect and dignity that all women deserve.”
For more information about participating in Denim Day or making a donation to support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, contact HAVEN at 248-334-1284, ext. 346. For more information about HAVEN, go to Haven-Oakland.org.
About Denim Day
In 1997, a 17-year-old girl in Rome, Italy was picked up by her 45-year-old driving instructor for her first lesson. An hour later he abandoned her in an alley after raping her. She reported the incident and the case was prosecuted. The driving instructor was convicted of rape and sent to prison. A year later, the driving instructor appealed his sentence. The Italian Supreme Court overturned his conviction. In a statement released by the chief judge, he said, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them… and by removing the jeans… it was no longer rape, but consensual sex.” Enraged by the verdict, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans on the steps of the Parliament building. Since then, annual Denim Days to protest sexual violence and to raise awareness have been organized throughout the United States.