Rise Above Violence: Giving voice to community silence

By Darcy Downing
Special to The PREVIEW
Domestic violence in rural America comes with it its own complexities. Statistics show that in rural areas, the first report of a domestic violence incident often does not occur until after the third offense. By then, the violence has escalated to such a degree that physical harm, emotional trauma and even loss of life can be the outcome.
The reluctance to report carries with it a long list of certifiable reasons stemming from a lack of access to services, transportation barriers, social stigmas associated with abuse, poverty barriers and many other demographic challenges.
When looking at rural areas like Pagosa Springs, community silence emerges as one of the primary risk factors for victims of domestic violence. This risk factor can be easily remedied by increasing community involvement while simultaneously providing education and awareness.
Rise Above Violence works to break through the barrier of community silence by incorporating the community’s members into the foundation of our organization. This is your chance to get involved, be proactive and make our community a safer and more informed place. How? By partnering with Rise Above Violence and becoming a volunteer advocate.
Advocacy is two steps toward a changed community:
1. Volunteer: When you are a volunteer advocate for Rise Above Violence, you gain insight into the complexities of domestic and sexual violence and how that directly impacts your community. All of our crisis advocates are members of the community who volunteer to respond and answer domestic violence calls and sexual assault crisis calls through our 24-hour hotline.
2. Training: The training we provide is thorough and constantly evolving as we gather more tools and statistics, staying apprised of the latest research and pertinent information. Rise Above Violence Advocacy Training provides you with a self-paced training schedule that will equip you with the skills you will need to become a successful advocate.
We work with two online facilitators to train our advocates: Violence Free Colorado (formerly The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence) and The Office of Victim Crime Training and Technical Assistance.
The completion of this self-paced portion of the training earns our volunteers a certificate of completion from each course. A minimum total of 18.5 webinar hours and 13 on-site training hours are required so that you will leave the training feeling secure and confident in your ability to respond.
Each month, we meet for one hour as a team for refresher courses and to develop and maintain cohesiveness within our team of volunteers.
Volunteering as a crisis advocate challenges the rural tendencies of community silence because it includes community members as a solution to a community problem. The more people who are talking about the solutions to the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault, the greater the opportunity there is for change.
If you are interested in making a difference in your community by volunteering as an advocate, contact Rise Above Violence at 264-1129, ext. 6 or email the volunteer coordinator at darcy@riseaboveviolence.org.
Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. We service victims and survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes in Archuleta County. Se habla Español. For 24/7 crisis support, please call 264-9075 to talk with an advocate.

This story was posted on March 6, 2019.