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‘It’s time ... to get involved’

Sexual violence is a widespread issue that affects everyone in a community.

In 1964, the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese shocked Americans from coast to coast. While a man attacked, raped and eventually killed this young woman, 38 men and women witnessed the assault and did nothing to help. The shock and confusion surrounding this single event captured the country’s attention and launched a substantial debate into how caring people could watch such an attack, and yet do nothing. New research and programs were initiated about the “bystander effect.”

People in a bystander role often describe feeling scared, alone and afraid to say or do something in the face of violence. They say that they fear making someone angry or even triggering further violence, or they feel that they may be misunderstanding the situation and would be intruding. Yet, over the years, the bystander intervention approach has recognized that saying or doing something many times has a positive effect and outcome. In fact, in most instances, there are a variety of opportunities that are available that can be done in a safe yet effective manner.

For instance, you are at a baseball game sitting next to two young and attractive college girls. They are very excited about being at their first Major League game. At first, everyone in your area was having a great time, high-fiving each other and cheering wildly. But then, some guys behind you started to make comments to the girls. At first, it wasn’t too bad. The girls tried to ignore them, but the more the guys drank, the ruder they got. They wanted the girls to sit with them, to sit on their laps, and their comments just got more disgusting. The girls asked them to stop, but it just seemed to encourage them more. Ask yourself, “Is it time ... to get involved?”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Throughout our nation, advocates and allies against sexual violence host events, launch media campaigns, and raise awareness of their communities all while providing essential services to victims of sexual assault. This year’s theme, “It’s time … to get involved,” urges everyone to take some form of action to end this devastating crime. Whether educating yourself and others on its prevalence, talking to your children on tools to prevent being a victim, or actively participating in an event, anyone can take the time to get involved.

The Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program is hosting several opportunities for you to get involved.

First, our new victim advocate workshop series began April 11. On Mondays and Wednesdays, from 5 to 8 p.m., receive information and professional training on domestic violence, sexual assault and victim advocacy. Everyone is welcome to attend without an obligation to become an advocate.

Next, ACVAP will host the fifth annual Walk A Mile In Their Shoes on April 28 at 11:30 a.m., beginning at the front of the CUMC Thrift Store. This fun event is a simple walk around the block wearing shoes that are not necessarily the most comfortable. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s empowering! Come join us.

And finally, the Fort Collins Sexual Assault Victim Advocate theatrical troupe will be on the high school stage presenting “Until Someone Wakes Up,” a prevention and educational performance using comedy, drama and satire on the issues teens face with sexual violence. For more information, call us at 264-9075.

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