April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month


By Mara Koch

Special to The SUN

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and provides an opportunity to highlight year-round efforts to aid those affected by sexual violence and work to prevent future sexual assaults. Through local and national campaigns, Sexual Assault Awareness Month highlights sexual violence as a preventable problem.

Did you know that you probably talked to someone today who has been a victim of sexual assault? Maybe it was a family member, a friend, or a cashier at a convenience store. If not today, then at some point in your life, you’ve met someone that has dealt with the pain, the emotional distress, and countless other long-term effects of sexual abuse. You might not know this about them; they might not ever tell you. But we know that one in two women and one in four men in Colorado have experienced sexually violent crimes in their lifetime.

Join Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program (ACVAP) in raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating others on how to prevent it.  By working together, we can highlight sexual violence as a major public health issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.

Look for posters in the restrooms of local bars that talk about sexual assault. ACVAP provides a local 24-hour confidential and anonymous hotline that individuals can call to report sexual assault or ask questions about a relationship. The hotline number is 264-9075.  ACVAP wants Pagosans to remember that consensual sex means your partner clearly said “yes” — not “maybe,” and certainly not nothing. It isn’t part of a “game” if your partner says “no.” That means you don’t have consent. If a person is too intoxicated to consent, then there is no consent. Healthy sex is all about the “yes.”

Sexual assault is an issue that affects all of us, and each of us can make a difference. If your friend says something that doesn’t feel right, then speak up. You can help prevent rape by speaking up to people who make jokes about getting people drunk to have sex with them or stop someone when they try to take a drunk person out of a bar.

On Wednesday, April 24,  unite in support of survivors of sexual assault and “Take a Walk in Her Jeans.” ACVAP sponsors this annual event that is a combination of their past “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to promote sexual assault awareness and the international Denim Day event — a day when we wear jeans as a visible means of protest against misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Don your denim and join others at noon at the Bell Tower in downtown Pagosa Springs for a walk around downtown to show your support in ending the violence.

This April, make the commitment to be part of the solution and help end sexual assault and sexual abuse in our community.

Call ACVAP at 264-9075 for more information on how you can help.