By Ashley Wilson
Special to The PREVIEW
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 an issue that together we can face and make a difference.
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 three women and one in six men in Colorado have experienced sexually violent crimes in their lifetime.
Join Rise Above Violence 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.
Watch for articles published throughout the month and public awareness campaigns to make everyone in Archuleta County more aware of the issues surrounding sexual assault.
Rise 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. Rise 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.”
Join Rise this month for several awareness activities:
• Saturday, April 13, join students for a mental health awareness walk, starting in Town Park and ending at the high school. Rise will have a table with information, so stop by and see all that is going on and how you can be involved in ending violence in our community.
• Wednesday, April 24, unite in support of survivors of sexual assault and “Take a Walk in Her Jeans.” Rise sponsors this annual Denim Day event to promote sexual assault awareness — a day when we wear jeans as a visible means of support against misconceptions that surround sexual assault. Ask your employer if your company will support Denim Day by allowing you to pay $5 to wear jeans to work and joining us at noon at the Bell Tower downtown for a walk around downtown to show your support in ending the violence. All proceeds will support Rise.
• Friday, April 26, is the annual Push-Up Challenge fundraiser where teams get pledges to do as many push-ups as possible in 30 minutes. The team that raises the most funds and does the most push-ups combined gets ultimate bragging rights. Funds all support local services for victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Are you up for the challenge?
This April, make the commitment to be part of the solution and help end sexual assault and sexual abuse in our community. Rise is a nonprofit organization that promotes the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence. Rise provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving over 350 victims each year.
Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today. Or, if you want to be part of the team to help those in our back yards, volunteers for advocacy are always needed and welcomed.
By Ashley Wilson