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Trigger warning: This article discusses rape and sexual assault
A rape survivor has launched a line of consent underwear in a bid to encourage couples to discuss boundaries before having sex.
Ella Fairon, who was the victim of sexual assault in high school, designed the underwear, which features slogans such as 'ask the cutie before touching the booty' and 'cool cats ask consent'.
Ella, 24, from California, first came up with the idea for the Assk First line after the death of her friend Daisy Coleman in 2020, who she met when they featured in the Netflix documentary Audrie and Daisy. The show brought together teens who had been sexually assaulted in high school.
"When Daisy died, I was really struggling with it," says Ella.
"I coped with her being gone by doing digital art and it sounds so stupid but I started drawing these little cat characters and I thought they'd look so cute on underwear.
"It was like a giant snowball that kept rolling and rolling and turned into Assk First.
"There are so many different scenarios where sexual assault happens and a big portion happens within relationships.
"I imagined so many different scenarios where someone would see them and be prompted to ask 'what does your underwear mean?'"
Bravely speaking about her own experience, Ella continues: "I was raped by two boys. What happened to me was more violent, they physically assaulted me, hit me and stuff, drugged me then assaulted me when I was unconscious.
"It didn't just happen that night and go away, it was an ongoing thing at school. Everyone knew about it and would harass me in the halls.
"I don't think they think they did anything wrong. It was like I wasn't even a human being. There was an investigation but I never got justice for what happened.
"I was struggling so hard with self-harm. I felt like it was so unfair."
Since the launch last year, Ella has been inundated with more than 1,000 orders, and while the majority of the feedback has been positive, some have described the idea as 'stupid'.
"I've had so much good feedback and support behind it. That makes me feel awesome but I do get negative feedback but it's all coming from people who don't understand rape culture," says Ella.
"I get comments from majority men saying it's the stupidest idea and my underwear would never stop a rapist.
"I thought that was such a weird response because you don't look at someone wearing a cancer awareness shirt and say 'your shirt isn't going to stop cancer'.
"When we're talking about consent and sexual assault, we're not talking about violent rapes that do happen but are a very small percentage. That's the whole point of my brand."
Ella explained she's had some amazing feedback, with many customers saying wearing them makes them feel safe.
"I never advertise that they're meant to stop a predator, but empower and spread awareness and start a conversation," she says.
Following Ella's traumatic assault 10 years ago, she says she blamed herself and found it difficult to confide in her parents until six months had passed.
The family were forced to move states and have been campaigning against sexual assault in high schools ever since. Ella even co-founded organisation, SafeBae, which aims to educate middle and high school students.
"I've been doing this work ever since I was assaulted," she says.
"After my parents knew they really made me understand that what had happened to me was really bad and a crime and I didn't do anything wrong.
"I feel the need to speak so publicly because I didn't feel like I had a choice. I was sick and tired of people not knowing it happened to me and not understanding why I was struggling and that it was wrong."
Ella has also recently launched a men's line, including t-shirts and boxers so that her younger brothers, Jack, 22, Ford, 21, and Cole, 19, can get involved in the campaign.
If you have been affected by this article, you can find help, support and advice at The Survivors Trust.
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