Rise Above Violence: Awareness plus actions create social change

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    By Ashley Wilson and Lisa Sifrit
    Rise Above Violence

    Helping to end domestic and sexual violence in our community requires a committed community both in words and actions. Knowledge is the key to seeing the end of this kind of violence in our community. Knowledge influences how we view issues and can help modify our beliefs. 

    I know we all believe that domestic and sexual violence are horrible things to happen, but we must also believe that being silent about these issues is part of the problem; we must also believe that we as a community can create social pressure that will make a difference; we must also believe that supporting survivors and educating our youth can make prevention possible.

    When we hold strong beliefs, those lead to action. Action can be sharing information; standing up against victim-blaming language and jokes; and getting involved in more meaningful ways, such as becoming a volunteer. 

    If you want to get involved or are interested in learning about domestic violence and sexual assault responses, advocacy, national and statewide statistics, and prevention, please join us for our Introduction to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Advocacy Workshop on April 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. Dinner will be provided, so RSVPs are required. You may RSVP and direct any additional questions to lisa@riseaboveviolence.org. Hope to see you there.

    Rise Above Violence relies on the support of our community to be successful. One of the most valuable roles in our agency is our volunteer advocate role. Rise cannot express enough the gratitude we have for our volunteers and we are always actively searching for more community members to join our team. We understand that this opportunity comes with uncertainties, so we thought we would address some questions with a candid interview with one of our longest-standing volunteers. 

    Q: What made you want to become a volunteer with Rise?

    A: “I had heard through friends that volunteers were needed, including men, and that training was provided. I had been looking for an opportunity to give back something to society, believed in the cause. The people I met at Rise were impressive, so I bought in.”

    Q: Did you have any hesitations about volunteering in the beginning?

    A: “Yes, I wondered how a man would perform where women were usually the victims. Of course, I had some general performance anxiety. But Rise provides pretty good support and ongoing training.”

    Q: How long have you been a volunteer for Rise?

    A: “For nearly two years now.”

    Q: What skills have you learned while volunteering with Rise, and what trainings have you enjoyed most that have been provided to you by Rise?

    A: “The real skill is talking to someone who has just been traumatized, give them unqualified emotional support, at the same time staying professional, informative, and helping them develop a safe and positive outlook. Rise training is academic, online, face-to-face, and on-the-job. It’s all good, but I confess on-the-job is the most effective.”

    Q: Overall, how would you describe the experience of being a volunteer advocate?

    A: “Enlightening. Rise folks share their wisdom, I get to contribute where people in need are actually helped, I count these as life experiences that make me a better person.”

    Q: What is the most challenging part of being a volunteer advocate for Rise?

    A: “I could say it was being woken up by a phone call at midnight and trying to sounding lucid, but really it’s learning all the avenues of help that victims have available, using that to guide them to a path where they can have a more peaceful and productive life.”

    Q: What is the most rewarding part of being a volunteer advocate with Rise?

    A: “It is very gratifying to associate with Rise folks, to know that you actually can do something to help people, and that there is support in our town for victims who really need it.”

    In order to be a volunteer, no experience is required and there is no time commitment once you have been trained. We make our on-call schedule each month and volunteers are able to pick any 12-hour shift that best fits their schedule. We also provide a one-hour monthly training to discuss and process hotline calls and crisis responses, and also to provide more education on domestic violence and sexual assault victim advocacy. 

    There are other ways to get involved: 1) You can join the push-up challenge for the month of April both to share information and raise much-needed funds. 2) You can attend Coffee Talk on April 22 through Facebook Live. 3) You can join us for Denim Day on April 28 for a walk around main street to show support for survivors. 4) You can join Youth Rise for the Mental Health Awareness Walk on May 22. You can see more about all these events at: https://www.Riseaboveviolence.org/april—sexual-assault-awareness-month.html.

    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 around 400 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 (970) 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.