Teens on TikTok are painting their bodies for an empowering reason

Though the video-sharing platform TikTok is largely used to create lip-syncing, dancing and other silly videos, some teens are utilizing the app for more meaningful purposes.

Recently, many users have started to use TikTok to convey to their followers that they’re feeling depressed or suicidal with coded messages. Similarly, sexual assault survivors are creating empowering videos detailing their experiences and showing fellow survivors that they are not defined by what happened to them.

This TikTok trend was started by Peace Over Violence as a way to commemorate Denim Day, a day dedicated to sexual violence prevention and education. The annual event — which takes place every year on April 29 — started in the 1990s after a rape conviction was overturned in Italy on the grounds that the justices felt the victim’s jeans were too tight to be ripped off without consent.

@golden_hauer

This took me a long to come out and say but I’m ready for my story to be heard. #fyp #awareness #denimday #nomeansno #strength #survivor

♬ Growth – myjuicysteak

Though Denim Day has come and gone, the #DenimDay hashtag continues to receive submissions on TikTok. To date, it has more than 144 million views and hundreds of videos from sexual assault survivors telling their stories.

@gucciyucci

Happy denim day I wanted to make everyone aware that it happens to boys too maybe not as often but it does inspired by @yung_maud  #denimday #foryou

♬ original sound – audío.bear

While some survivors use the clothes they were wearing the night they were assaulted to tell their story, others use body paint to demonstrate where they were touched without consent. The resulting visuals are both raw and powerful.

Though TikTok is notoriously rife with bullies and trolls, users are overwhelmingly supportive of sexual assault survivors sharing their stories.

“You are so strong and this is so powerful. I don’t know you, but i feel close to you and you’re so inspiring,” one person commented on a survivor’s video about being raped by multiple men.

“You are so strong and so resilient,” another user added. “Thank you for sharing your story, you have no idea how much this is going to help other girls.”

“I cried watching this!” a third person said. “You’re so strong!!”

According to RAINN, one out of every six American women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. Approximately three percent of American males will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime as well.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can get help 24/7 by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673. You can also chat with a National Sexual Assault Hotline representative at any time by clicking here.

Check out these expert-backed tips on calming down through self-talk.

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