Community Connections: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Fo rSteamboat Pilot & Today
Advocates of Routt County’s mission is to serve and empower victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence and to disrupt all systems that allow such violence to exist in Routt County.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Advocates wants to take this opportunity to tell the community about how we are empowering Routt County to “Speak Up. Speak Out.” about sexual assault.
Unfortunately, sexual assault is a very real thing in our community. Recent preliminary research by Advocates indicates that 44% of people surveyed stated they, or someone they know, have been sexually assaulted in Routt County, and 48% stated they, or someone they know, have had their drink drugged in Routt County.
Unfortunately, a drugged drink often can lead to sexual assault. Further, only one-third of people know their reporting options. Visit advocatesrc.org/get-help/SA-reporting-options for reporting options.
In addition, approximately 80% of sexual assaults go unreported to police. Shame, trauma, fear of not being believed and not knowing the reporting options are all factors that stop victims from coming forward. So, we ask that you help us “Speak Up. Speak Out.” by learning more or participating in the following events.
Denim Day is part of an international movement to support survivors and bring awareness to sexual assault by wearing jeans April 24. Denim Day was started in 1999 after the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the justices felt that, since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove them, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim.
The movement has continued to grow and is now an international movement and protest against all of the destructive attitudes towards victims of sexual assault and to work to dispel the myths about sexual assault. Just by wearing denim on April 24, our community can show its support to victims.
In Our Shoes is a collaboration between Advocates, Steamboat Pilot & Today, Steamboat Creates and Young Bloods Collective that aims to raise awareness and start conversations about sexual violence through physical and spoken art. It is based on the old adage, “Don’t judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.”
Community members and artists are invited to create their story from a pair of shoes to depict their thoughts or experiences surrounding the issue of sexual assault. The decorated shoes will be displayed during the In Our Shoes event on July 27 at Library Hall at Bud Werner Memorial Library at the culmination of an eight-week investigative series on sexual assault by the Steamboat Pilot & Today beginning in June.
Other community members will present spoken word art through stories, poetry or music at the event. We are so thankful to Routt County United Way, who is the presenting sponsor for the event.
Good Night Out is a new campaign to prevent sexual assault being initiated in our bars and restaurants. The campaign will include training for bartenders, safe places for customers to put their drinks, information for customers about seeking help if danger is suspected and reporting options if an assault happens.
Bartender training will include how to recognize if a customer is in trouble, how to make them safe and what to do if they suspect a drink has been drugged. Once completed, bars and restaurants will display the Good Night Out logo. Importantly, the training and materials are being developed with local bar owners, and thus, will be peer-supported.
For more information, feel free to reach out to Advocates at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-879-2034.
Tamsin Angus-Leppan, Ph.D. is a victim advocate for Advocates of Routt County.
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