#SWAAYthenarrative

"What I Wore When I Was Sexually Assaulted"

4 Min Read
Culture

Some outfits will forever remain ingrained in our subconscious long after we remove the clothes from our bodies. These articles of clothing often remind us of pivotal memories, from the first day of middle school to our senior prom. If you are fortunate, your garment will never carry traumatic memories, but for those who are victims of rape escaping these memories is almost impossible.

Survivors of sexual assault rose awareness via the popular video-sharing app Tik Tok in honor of Denim Day on April 29, at the conclusion of Sexual Assault and Awareness Month (SAAM). Both women and men posted videos of the clothing they were wearing when they were raped, using Tik Tok as a platform to take a step towards confronting these memories. The pattern of each video was similar: displaying the outfit, tossing it aside, and declaring that assault does not define a person. The compilation of these Tik Toks all solidify the reality that clothes are not the problem.

Tik Tok has risen in popularity over the past few months, in part due to quarantine. At the same time, domestic violence hotlines have received a significant increase in calls due to lockdown regulations keeping wives –– and husbands –– at home where escape from abuse is almost impossible. Something that is supposed to be safe, comfortable –– like a pair of jeans –– becomes another domain for assault.

While the majority of videos on Tik Tok aim to instill laughter and prompt hours of scrolling, the app is also redefining storytelling and the narrative around injustices, in this case sexual assault. 63% of rapes go unreported, but these videos allow users to speak up not only to attain justice and closure for themselves, but also for those who cannot.

Denim Day began in 1990s Italy when an 18-year-old girl was raped by her 45-year-old driving instructor. He steered her towards an isolated road, removed her jeans, and raped her. She reported the rape and the rapist was arrested and prosecuted. He was then convicted of rape and sentenced to jail, but years later was appealed and released because of what later became known as the "jeans alibi."

The compilation of these Tik Toks all solidify the reality that clothes are not the problem.

A statement from the Italian Supreme Court argued that because the young woman's jeans were too tight, she had to help her attack remove the pants which thus signaled consent. The verdict enraged women in the Italian Parliament who protested by wearing jeans on the court's steps. This soon became a worldwide protest when the California Senate and Assembly followed suit. The first international Denim Day was held in April 1999. The day began as a way to protest the unfounded idea that what a person wears has any impact on their likelihood of being sexually assaulted. People across the world still honor it today. SWAAY Voice and sexual assault survivor, Devi Jags, even shared her perspective on the history of Denim Day in her piece, "Why I'm Wearing Jeans On Denim Day As A Survivor Of Sexual Assault."

Chiara Ferragni, Italian Entrepreneur and Founder of The Blonde Salad, posted to her Instagram (@chiaraferragni) story in honor of Denim Day and SAAM. She began by explaining the Tik Tok trend outlined above, before showing selected videos on her own account. Many showed violently ripped jeans and skirts while the majority featured everyday outfits: a sweatshirt, joggers, or a baggy t-shirt. The clips are simultaneously emotional and empowering as voices silenced by their attackers and society are finally being heard across channels. Ferragni has compiled these stories into a saved highlight on her Instagram account where old and new followers can rewatch them at any time, not just during SAAM.

Ferragni currently lives in Milan, but has also spent part of her life in LA. With 20 million followers on Instagram, her posts brought more awareness to the already trending Tik Tok videos. As the day went on, more videos rolled in, diversifying the conversation around sexual assault as men and women were featured, one user tossing an army uniform to the side. Both survivors steered home the fact that anyone can be a target for rape, but not everyone has the privilege to be heard.

Both women and men posted videos of the clothing they were wearing when they were raped, using Tik Tok as a platform to take a step towards confronting these memories.

Followers messaged Ferragni, both in English and Italian, opening up about their own experiences. Chiara posted a photo of herself in tears from reading these responses. These brave survivors are true heroes, she wrote, posting their darkest memories to remind survivors of rape they are not alone. At the end of the highlight, Ferragni encouraged her followers to seek help if they have been raped, or are in an abusive relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline remains open and available 24/7, even through the pandemic. If you have been affected by abuse or need any support, call 1-800-799-7233.

Social media platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram are not always privy to furthering the dialogue around social change, in fact sometimes they are the cause for the same societal ailments –– namely cyberbullying and slut or body shaming. But sometimes they rise above and beyond typical institutional systems meant to instill justice. During a pandemic, we are all grappling to find ways to stay connected and work through resurfacing traumas. Tik Tok may have been born from the same tree which brought us the cringey Vine, but the app is surpassing its predecessor in providing a platform for users to seek support, speak out, and find a sense of community even during the coronavirus emergency. Alone together, we remain strong.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.