By Jacey Christensen
Special to The PREVIEW
It’s 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Law enforcement responds to a domestic dispute in which a man has physically assaulted his female partner. Law enforcement reaches out to Rise Above Violence for an advocate to respond on scene to support the victim. A Rise advocate jumps in their car and quickly makes it to the home of the victim. She is visibly upset and has evidence of physical violence as well.
As law enforcement finishes their paperwork, the advocate is left with the victim, who is feeling devastated and traumatized. After a long, compassionate conversation with the victim, she decides she would like to seek medical attention for her injuries. The advocate drives the victim to the hospital and stays by her side while she relives her traumatic story yet again to medical professionals. The advocate is there to sit with her through her medical exams and then to drive her back home afterwards, as she is extremely exhausted.
Although responding on scene is a rare occurrence for our volunteer advocates, it is one of the actions our organization takes that often leaves the most impact on our victims. After the dust has settled and first responders have left the scene of the domestic violence incident, a victim often feels helpless, with no one to process the events. Imagine that this is your daughter, niece, aunt, best friend or anyone else whom you love who is a victim of domestic violence. Would you hope that she has a kind and knowledgeable advocate there to guide her and support her through this time? Many people who live in Pagosa Springs don’t have family near, and in tragic times they only have our wonderful volunteers to lean on.
Rise Above Violence has a 24-hour hotline that covers seven days a week. The days are broken down into two 12-hour shifts. The first shift is from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the second shift from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Each volunteer selects their shift, including which nights or days they want to cover. Depending upon their personal schedule, our volunteers decide how many shifts they want to take each year. When on call, we ask that you be available to respond to any calls. We do not expect you to put your life on hold and stop your daily activities, just that you remain accessible to respond to a crisis call if and when you are needed.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month — one in four women will experience a similar scenario in their lifetime. One out of four, that means that if you are sitting with four friends, one of you is likely to have to go through this trauma. One in nine men (ncadv.org) will also experience domestic violence. It is time for our communities to come together, end the silence and take action to end interpersonal violence. #1Thing is our 2019 campaign. What is one thing you can do? Consider being a volunteer advocate. That one thing could change someone’s life.
If any of this has sparked your interest, please feel free to reach out to Rise at 264-1129 for more information. We will be offering a two-part training, the first being on Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the second being on Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To get the location, RSVP or to get any questions answered, please email volunteer coordinator Jacey Christensen firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested but missed the training this week, we can catch you up. Please call.
Rise is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving over 300 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.
By Jacey Christensen