April 28 is Denim Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about sexual assault and rape.
People all across the world, including right here in the Treasure Valley, will put on their blue jeans and take to social media to send a strong message to survivors of these crimes: we believe you. Survivors and advocates say the message is critical for others to feel comfortable sharing their stories and seeking help.
An increase in calls
In 2020, the Women's and Children's Alliance (WCA) say they saw a huge spike in the need for their services, both for domestic violence and sexual assault.
The WCA reports they experienced a 57% increase in the total number of calls to their 24-hour hotlines and an 84% increase in the number of calls related to domestic abuse.
Data from the WCA shows on a single day in Idaho in 2020:
- 570 victims were served in one day
- 217 adult and child victims of domestic violence found refuge in emergency shelters, transitional housing, or other housing provided by local domestic violence program and
- 353 adult and child victims received non-residential assistance and services, including counseling, legal advocacy, children’s support groups, and more
- 158 Hotline Calls Answered
- 116 Individuals Attended Prevention and Educational Trainings
- 114 Unmet Requests for Services in One Day: of which 79% (90) were for Housing and Emergency Shelter
According to data from the WCA, someone is raped in Idaho every 13.8 hours.
In the same year, the Ada County Sheriff's Office reported 1,066 calls to 911 related to sexual assault.
A hidden need for help
The WCA's Chris Davis explains though the need for support has been high, the number of those that actually need help is likely much higher--especially in Idaho's rural areas where there aren't as many resources. "It's hard to actually gauge, quite frankly, because there are a lot of things that do not get reported," Davis says.
Davis explains there are a few different reasons rape and sexual assault go under-reported, but a big one is victim-blaming.
"We hear this over and over again from victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault--there's a lot of shame and trauma around that," Davis said.
That's why she says the message of Denim Day is so important.
"Going forward we're going to do everything we can collectively to change our culture--and some of that starts with talking about consent," Davis said. "It's not easy work. Change is not easy. "
Idaho News 6 has been working for months to bring you the stories of local organizations and programs working to create the conversations needed for change, and support victims of sexual assault.
Back in January, we showed you how Boise State Criminal Justice Researchers are partnering with the Idaho Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance to learn how they can better serve victims of crimes.
In our legislative coverage, Nicole Camarda brought you the story of lawmakers' unanimous vote to pass legislation that protects survivors or potential victims of spousal rape and sexual assault in a marriage.
Over in the Magic Valley, Stephanie Garibay showed us how students at the University of Idaho are raising awareness about the sexual harassment and assault female farmworkers face by launching the bandana project in Idaho, a nationwide initiative led by Justice for Migrant Women to raise awareness on this issue.
If you would like to show your support for victims on Denim Day, wear your favorite pair of jeans on April 28.
The mayors of both Boise and Meridian will be making proclamations declaring April 28 denim day.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with domestic violence, sexual assault or any other mental health or addiction crisis, here is a list of resources for you:
Women's and Children's Alliance hotlines:
24-Hour Domestic Abuse Hotline: 208.343.7025
24-Hour Sexual Assault Hotline: 208.345.7273 (RAPE)
Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Phone: (208) 398-4357
Veteran's Crisis Line:
Phone: 1 (800) 273-8255 (PRESS 1), or you can text: 838255 to get help from professionals, 24/7.
St. Luke's Psychiatric Wellness Clinic:
211 Idaho Careline:
Phone: Dial 211 or 1-800-926-2588
Code 4 Northwest:
Phone: (888) 659-7510
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare:
Phone lists: https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/ContactUs.aspx