Events planned for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

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By Ashley Wilson | Rise Above Violence 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

“It’s impossible to prevent an issue no one knows about and it’s difficult to make people aware of a problem without providing a solution. The two work in tandem and they always have. From the civil rights movement to the founding of the first rape crisis centers to national legislation and beyond, the roots of [Sexual Assault Awareness Month] run deep.” — www.nsvrc.org.

What we know is that awareness plus action equals change. Awareness is not enough, but it is where we have to start. Awareness that sexual assault happens right here in Pagosa Springs. Rise served 32 victims of sexual assault in 2021; we know there are so many more that do not reach out for help.

Every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. and, every nine minutes, that person is a child. That is 35,490 people every 30 days. One in four women and one in 71 men will be a victim of rape in their lifetime. That is too many people. Awareness tells us these numbers. It tells us that women ages 18-24 are three times more likely to experience sexual assault than women of any other age (www.Rainn.org).

So, what do we do once we know? That is the action. What action can we take as a community to impact change? You can speak up and call out inappropriate jokes or comments that make our society numb to the violence. You can make your workplace safe for employees to report sexual harassment or assault. You can intervene. 

“An effective bystander sees something and says something, does something, or enlists the help of others to intervene.“ — https://www.nsvrc.org/saam/2022/takingactiontointervene.

You can show up for people in your life who have experienced this trauma.

“As long as there have been people who care about making the world a better place, there have been individuals advocating for sexual assault prevention. In the United States, movements for social change and equality began to gain traction in the 1940s and ‘50s with the civil rights era. Although open discussion of the realities of sexual assault and domestic violence were limited at these times, activists for equal rights began to challenge the status quo.” — www.nsvrc.org.

April events and
ways to help

During April every year, we have a lineup of events to raise awareness, to raise funds to support survivors and some where you can take action. Some do all three. Please join us for one or more of our events:

• Month-long push-up challenge: Our challengers have pledged to do push-ups the month of April. Our goal is to reach 35,490 to represent the number of people who will be sexual assaulted in the month of April. We are working to raise $15,000 to provide supportive services to survivors in Archuleta County. You can still sign up to be a challenger or you can support an individual or team to meet their fundraising goal at: https://secure.frontstream.com/30-day-push-up-challenge-2022.

• Saturday, April 16, at10:20 a.m.: Push-up challenge blitz at CrossFit Pagosa. We will work all together to do push-ups EMOM style (every minute on the minute). Even if you can only commit to two push-ups per minute, every push-up counts and we have sponsors for the event that will be paying $1 for every toe push-up and 50 cents for every modified push-up done in that 20 minutes.

• Thursday, April 21, at 9 a.m.: Coffee Talk at the Tennyson Event Center highlighting awareness activities.

• Thursday, April 21, at 5 p.m.: Town proclamation declaring April Sexual Assault Awareness Month — during the town council meeting.

• Wednesday, April 27, at noon: Denim Day Walk at the bell tower. What is Denim Day? It is a symbolic gesture of solidarity against sexual violence. We meet and take a walk around main street to show victims and survivors they are not alone. 

Stay up to date and get more information by following us on Facebook or checking out the website at riseaboveviolence.org. 

You can also help by sharing all month long and beyond on all your social media accounts. It is important to ensure that those who are experiencing violence know that there is help. By keeping Rise in everyone’s news feeds, we can send a very clear message to those who see the posts that they are not alone. Rise will respond to every call 24/7. The hotline is (970) 264-9075. Some ideas for posting: You can share what Rise shares on both Facebook and Instagram. You can show off a selfie in teal — teal is the color of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

You can volunteer for Rise. If you have time right now to consider volunteering to answer hotline calls, Rise offers volunteer training online. You can contact Rise at (970) 264-9075 or email Latina, our volunteer coordinator, at latina@riseaboveviolence.org.

If you are in a position to give financially, Rise can still use your support. You can support a push-up challenger, you can give on our website and you can also sign up to be part of our Snowball Club. The Snowball Club is a monthly gift of $10 or more; $10 supports one crisis call, so by signing up to be a monthly donor, you are ensuring support for our 24/7 crisis support line all year long.

Join with Rise Above Violence in offering a collective voice that says sexual assault is not acceptable in our community. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is intended to draw attention to the fact that sexual violence is widespread and has public health implications for every community member of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County. By participating with Rise in this month activities, you are giving voice to victims in our community and making a clear statement that sexual violence will not be accepted in Pagosa.

Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit organization which 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 more than 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 (970) 264- 9075 to talk to an advocate today.