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Operation Cinderella fights relationship abuse

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Archuleta County Victim Assistance/Youth Violence Prevention Education programs are actively promoting awareness, education and activism in our local high school girls by engaging them in “Operation Cinderella.”

This event will not only help girls choose a prom dress, free of charge, but will also raise awareness of the many forms of sexual assault, most often occurring in dating situations.

Quoting one of our local high school students, “It astounds me how many girls that you would never expect have been raped and how none of them report it.”

This is a girl’s only event! High school girls are invited to come to the Pagosa Springs Youth Center on Wednesday, April 8, from 4 to 7 p.m. Refreshments and door prizes will also be part of this fun evening in preparation for the prom.

Ladies of Pagosa: If you have gowns or formal dresses that you would like to donate, please bring them to the Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program office, located on the north side of the Pagosa Springs Town Hall, 551 Hot Springs Blvd.

What is relationship abuse?

Relationship, or dating abuse, is the act or threat of abuse — physical, sexual or emotional — by one partner in a dating relationship toward the other partner. Sexual assault is a broad term that covers many other more specific crimes and issues. Some of those are Internet/technology based crimes, sexual harassment, rape and statutory rape, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence.

Consequences

“Physical, sexual, and emotional violence hurts! It has a deep-down effect on how victims — and abusers — feel about themselves. Young people in unhealthy relationships put their healthy emotional development at risk. They may feel the negative effects for the rest of their lives. And, for both victims and abusers, being in a violent relationship makes them more likely to be involved in abusive relationships later in life. Young people who find themselves in abusive relationships can be helped through programs that teach them how to avoid future unhealthy relationships, and how to overcome negative consequences.” — www.chooserespect.org.

Community collaboration

The goal of Operation Cinderella is to draw attention to the serious issue of dating abuse, and to educate everyone regarding the dynamics of sexual assault and how community members can share in the responsibility for limiting the norms or belief systems that contribute to sexual violence. These include “ … objectification and oppression of women; value placed on claiming and maintaining power, tolerance of aggression, and attribution of blame to victims; traditional constructs of manhood, including domination and control; and notions of individual and family privacy that foster secrecy and silence.” — Sexual Violence and the Spectrum of Prevention, David, Parks, and Cohen, 2006.

Campaigns such as Operation Cinderella, together with small group and individual activities, help raise awareness of problems such as sexual assault and dating violence, and are more likely to change attitudes and behavior when these messages are combined with other community activities. The Pagosa Springs Youth Center, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program, Department of Human Services and Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, as well as several other local agencies, have all joined forces to provide classes to help young people achieve healthy relationship goals. Call 264-5030, or stop by the Pagosa Springs Youth Center, 269 1/2 Pagosa St., for a list of classes, dates and times..

This event is sponsored by ACVAP’s Youth Violence Prevention Education Program, a nonprofit agency that promotes the belief that all people have the right to live free from violence by providing support and advocacy services for victims and education for youth and our community.

For more information, call Karen or Beth at 264-9075, or Liz at 264-4152, Ext. 31.