By Ashley Wilson
Special to The PREVIEW
Pagosa Springs is an amazing community. There are so many ways people are supported and so many groups doing great work. In all of these cases, thank you for embracing your voice for causes that help our town be better, do better and provide such a sense of community.
Now, embrace your voice again, not just in April, but all year, to support victims and survivors of sexual violence.
There are many ways you can use your voice:
1) Believe victims — if a friend, co-worker, child or anyone else tells you, believe them.
2) Encourage others to learn more — if you know the facts, share them with community members who may not understand the issues.
3) Get involved — Rise Above Violence always needs volunteers; crisis hotline volunteers and special event or office volunteers.
4) Break the silence — Silence is what keeps victims living in shame instead of freedom, silence lets the abuser get away with it, silence is not part of the solution.
The solution is creating a community where violence is not tolerated, where we as individual community members hold each other accountable for things we say and actions we take. How we talk about sexual violence matters. One voice cannot change the dialogue, but all of our voices can. Most importantly, we need to give a voice to those who are too afraid to speak.
We need to give a voice to the child who is being sexually abused at home, to the teen who is being harassed and assaulted at school or out in our community, to the women and men who do not tell because they are afraid or ashamed — we are their voice. Shout out with Rise Above Violence that our community will support survivors, that they have a place, that they have hope and that healing is possible.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, there is help. Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit organization that provides free services to victims and survivors. Whether it has been 10 minutes or 10 years, our advocates are here to help you. There is no obligation to report to law enforcement; our advocates will help you understand all your choices. You are not alone.
Rise Above Violence’s 24-hour hotline can be reached at 264-9075.
By Ashley Wilson