Local nonprofit hosts events for domestic violence awareness
IF YOU GO…
What: “Our Response” Survivor Stories
When: 5 p.m. Thursday (discussion at 6 p.m.)
Where: The Wheeler Opera House.
What:“Talking with Teens About Relationships” workshop with Derek McCoy
When: 5:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Aspen High School
IF YOU NEED HELP…
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern or behavior used to establish power and control over another person by invoking fear and intimidation through physical, emotional, psychological, economic and/or sexual abuse.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, or know of someone who may be, please call the Response 24/7 crisis helpline at 970-925-7233, or visit responsehelps.org for more information.
One in three women and one in four men have experienced it. Each day, roughly 20,000 phone calls are placed to hotlines about it. Each minute, it happens to nearly 20 people.
These are just a few of the statistics that show the prevalence of domestic violence in the United States, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
And according to Response, a local nonprofit aimed at both educating locals on domestic and sexual abuse and supporting survivors, the Aspen area is not excluded from these statistics.
“People will say to me, ‘Oh, but domestic violence doesn’t happen here,’ and it is kind of like, why would it not happen here?” said Shannon Meyer, executive director for Response. “Statistically, it happens everywhere.”
That’s why during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, Meyer and her Response team are hosting events aimed at increasing awareness and education around domestic violence in the Aspen area.
The first, a survivor storytelling night Response debuted last year, is Thursday night in The Wheeler Opera House lobby bar area.
Four survivors will share their experiences related to domestic violence and sexual assault, and Natalie Spears, a Carbondale-based singer-songwriter, will perform her recently released single written in response to the #MeToo movement titled “See This Fight As One.”
There also will be a panel discussion with some storytellers, a member of the Aspen Police Department, a therapist who works with trauma victims and a Response advocate about domestic and sexual abuse, Meyer said.
“The whole idea is to hear inspiring stories about people who have gone through really difficult things and are thriving afterward,” Meyer said. “It’s to help people believe that you can come through something and be stronger than you were before.”
The second event, put on in partnership with Aspen Family Connections, is set for all day Monday and will feature Derek McCoy, a former record-breaking Colorado Buffaloes football wide receiver and current prevention programs director for Denver’s Project PAVE nonprofit.
McCoy will speak with the entire ninth grade at Aspen High School about healthy relationships, meet with the high school football team at their afternoon practice and talk for two hours with local families in the evening during a “Talking with Teens About Relationships” workshop.
Response also is partnering with the Aspen Chapel Gallery to host the 4 Rivers Biennial Exhibition, a juried art show featuring work from artists from Rifle to Aspen, with 10% of the proceeds from work sold benefiting the nonprofit.
But while these events aim to raise awareness for domestic violence and sexual abuse during the month of October, there are 11 other months of the year Response works to break abuse cycles and support survivors.
Meyer said that last year Response served 140 survivors through its individual advocacy services, most recently including a housing and therapy support program kicked off last spring.
So far this year, the nonprofit has served 146 survivors, which indicates to Meyer that more people are informed of and ready to reach out for Response support.
One of the survivors receiving Response support spoke with The Aspen Times on a recent afternoon. She said she is set to share her story at the Thursday night “Our Response” Survivor Stories event, but wished to remain anonymous for this story.
“As things would inevitably come up with my personal life and domestic violence, it felt so great to come to the kind faces and to have comfort in knowing they can see me as every other person,” the survivor said of her experience with Response advocates. “It’s helped in my healing to be treated as someone that’s relatable.”
The survivor said the Response services she’s received, including therapy and financial support, have helped her move on with her life in a plausible way.
At the Thursday night event, she said she hopes people will understand that domestic violence and sexual abuse can happen to anyone, and to inspire those who may be going through an abusive situation to seek out the resources they may need.
“The one-in-three and one-in-four statistics are very real and it doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what you look like or what your economic status is,” the survivor said of domestic violence.
“We’re in a beautiful area of the country and we want to have a lovely Instagram-style life that outside people can admire … but life’s not easy in Aspen and ugly stuff can happen to everyone,” the survivor continued. “It’s not boxed into one group of people and hopefully understanding that gives some open space for people who would normally be a little apprehensive to come forward and seek help.”
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