The month of April raises awareness for a couple of important causes, including sexual assault.

In the past, women at the YWCA in St. Joseph would decorate jeans to be displayed in the building’s lobby or at the Police Department’s lobby.

Even though they will not be able to do that this year, the YWCA is still raising awareness on social media, where it has been able to reach more people than it has in the past.

The history of Denim Day is based on a controversial court case of a woman who was raped in the ’90s.

“In Italy, there was this 18-year-old girl and she was raped by a 45-year-old driving instructor, who took her to an isolated road and raped her,” Karla Hanlan, Sexual Assault Victim Advocate at YWCA, explained. “(The court) said her jeans were too tight for him to get off, that she would have had to help him take them off.”

According to, “the following day, women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.”

The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected how awareness is raised, but also has prevented people from getting the help they need.

“That’s what we’re missing too, with this COVID-19 and with most of us working from home is you don’t go to the hospital, you don’t get that interaction of face to face, which I think helps calm a victim down a lot,” Hanlan said.

Advocates may not be able to meet in person, but still encourage anyone who needs help to call the YWCA at 816-232-4481.

Maykayla Hancock can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowHancock.

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