Rise Above Violence available 24/7

By Ashley Wilson
Special to The PREVIEW
You will still see teal ribbons on main street despite all that is happening.
The town is quieter right now, much has to be closed as we work to protect our community from the COVID-19 virus, but sexual assault and domestic violence do not stop. Research actually tells us that the number will go up during this time of crisis. Domestic violence is likely to increase by 50 percent, according to the World Health Organization, and evidence is coming out of places affected before the U.S. to support that, as reported in the New York Times. Those that were already isolated by their abuser now have no daily escape because work has halted, people they might normally go to for help are self-quarantined. Stress is high as jobs may have been lost or reduced and people may be afraid. Eight out of 10 victims of rape knew the rapist and 51 percent of female rape victims report being raped by an intimate partner (RAINN), so social isolation does not help these numbers, it makes them worse. This is why Rise Above Violence does not stop.
You will still see teal ribbons line the streets; Rise wants to send the message that you are not alone. There is still help 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you are experiencing violence.
Teal is the color for Sexual Assault Awareness Month and now more than ever Rise wants the community to stand with victims and survivors. The ribbons help us acknowledge the 40 victims of sexual assault that Rise helped in 2019. They also help us acknowledge that two out of every three sexual assaults go unreported; and during a national crisis the likelihood is that many more will not report. Our culture tells victims that their story is not important and they will not be believed. We see this through the staggering statistic of how many rapists actually face jail time — only 3 percent.
What can our community do, especially right now? Take the time to share on your social media platform, Rise will be posting messages on Facebook and Instagram. This could be the lifeline to those experiencing sexual assault or domestic violence. This will communicate to them that people have not forgotten these issues, that there is still help. We can use this time and the platforms we are on to make a difference and educate our community.
Believe survivors and challenge victim blaming. While you may not be able to be physically present if someone reaches out to you, believe them. Rise advocates are available around the clock for victims and for friends or family that are concerned. We can help provide you information on how to support someone in your life who is experiencing or has experienced rape or domestic violence.
Victim blaming happens all the time; you see it in media headlines, in the response of those whom the victim discloses to and often in the court system. When someone questions what a victim could have done differently, he or she is participating in a culture of victim blaming. Challenge anyone you hear or see doing this. As a culture we need to start placing blame where it belongs — on the person perpetrating the violence.
This year, Rise has a full lineup of events for the month. We are working to move toward virtual events and we need your help. Join us virtually throughout the month to learn more and to show your support of victims and survivors in our community.
April 9: Coffee Talk with Rise. We will be using Facebook Live and other videos to support this event. Follow us on Facebook to learn more.
April 13: “What Were You Wearing?” gallery will be held virtually. This important show helps to dispel the myth that rape has anything to do with what a victim is wearing.
April 24: Push-Up Challenge fundraiser. We are getting creative with this annual event and will have updates soon.
April 29: Denim Day. We typically take a walk around main street and ask our community to wear jeans in support of survivors. As things unfold, we will update about how you can participate in this important awareness event with Rise.
Rise provides free 24/7 support, even though this pandemic, to victims, survivors and their support network. If you need information on how to help a friend or family member, we are here for you, too. Our 24/7 hotline number is 264-9075. Rise remains committed to serving our community through these uncertain times. Rest assured that our hotline is being answered and there is help if you need it.

This story was posted on April 5, 2020.