ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (May 1, 2017) -- Whether you like to wear straight leg or boot cut denim jeans or denim jackets or shirts, all types of denim were welcomed during the 18th Annual Denim Day Observance and 1 mile walk April 26 at Aberdeen Proving Ground's Fanshaw Field.

Sponsors of this year's observance were the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, office and the Aberdeen Test Center, or ATC. Among the attendees were the following VIPs:

• Col. Morris L. Bodrick, ATC commander
• Maj. Gen. Randy S.Taylor, Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM, commander
• Command Sgt. Maj. Matthew D. McCoy, CECOM command sergeant major
• Chief Warrant Officer 5 Scott E. Broten, CECOM Senior Warrant Officer
• Command Sgt. Maj. Toese Tia Jr., Garrison and APG command sergeant major

In 1998 the seeds were sowed for the U.S.'s Denim Day observance when a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the rape victim wore tight jeans. The Italian Supreme Court argued, "because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him (the alleged rapist) remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex." The court's decision sparked widespread opposition by the women in the Italian Parliament who protested by wearing jeans to work the following day.

Patricia Giggans, who at the time was the executive director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (now Peace Over Violence), launched a Denim Day campaign which spread across the country. For the past 18 years, the Denim Day observance has been held on a Wednesday in April in conjunction with Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Prior to the walk, the guest speaker, Dr. Tony Korol-Evans, division manager of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault Legal Institute briefly shared key guidance on preventing more people from falling victim to sexual violence.

"It is important to understand that sexual violence entails many different things," Korol-Evans said. "It could range from degrading and sexist attitudes and sexual harassment to actual physical penetration without consent."

Korol-Evans said one person can successfully intervene to prevent sexual violence by implementing one of the following three D's:

(1) Direct -- physically jumping in to intervene to stop the behavior
(2) Distract -- walking up to the offender and bringing his or her attention to another topic
(3) Delegate -- raise the incident to someone in a position of authority who can intervene

Korol-Evans concluded by encouraging all attendees to step in, step up, and stand up to stop sexual violence before it happens.

"Stepping in could be the actual difference between somebody committing a sexual act on somebody without their consent, perpetuating the sexual violence creating one more victim, and it not happening at all," Korol-Evans said. "Stepping in and stepping up to stop sexual assault isn't easy, but it can be done".

"Sometimes, it only takes one person to stop sexual violence from happening."

Participants were invited to sign SHARP pledge boards after the walk to show commitment and support in the fight against sexual violence.

For help or further information on Denim Day, please visit http://denimdayinfo.org.

For further information on services provided by APG's SHARP Resource Center, please contact the APG SHARP Hotline at 410-322-7154.

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