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Volunteers needed to help domestic, sexual abuse survivors

The nonprofit Response is hosting a virtual training for new volunteer advocates beginning April 6

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Response
RESPONSE NEEDS MORE VOLUNTEERS

Are you interested in helping victims of domestic and sexual abuse in our valley? Response needs volunteers to who can commit to at least two 12-hour on-call shifts per month. Crisis line calls are routed to volunteers’ cell phones (without the number being shared with the caller), so all you have to do is remain within cell range during your shifts. A 30-hour training is required and during the current pandemic restrictions, the training will be offered entirely online for the first time. The next training begins April 6th.

“I volunteer with Response because I believe in the transformative power of showing up for another person during times of deep sadness, confusion or fear,” said Response volunteer Shannon Birzon. “I feel eternally grateful for those who have done the same for me, and volunteering is a way for me to give back to my community.”

If you’re interested in volunteering, visit responsehelps.org/volunteer, call 970-920-5357, or email hannah@responsehelps.org.

The effects of domestic abuse
or sexual assault can feel overwhelming for victims, especially when they feel trapped in an unsafe situation.

Response, a nonprofit that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the upper Roaring Fork Valley, provides services that offer safety, comfort and relief for victims who need support.

In 2020, 150 clients used the services provided by Response, and 274 people called their 24-hour crisis helpline.



Survivors of abuse that come to Response find a non-judgmental listener, referrals to other agencies, court and medical accompaniment and many other types of support. Many of these survivors were in the midst of a life-changing crisis and Response was their first stop on their journey of recovery.

Response is looking for more local volunteers to be that listener and safety net for those in crisis. An online training for volunteer advocates begins online on Tuesday April 6th (see fact box).



DOMESTIC AND SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE VALLEY

One in three women, and one in four men, in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Those statistics ring true locally, according to Response staff.

“There’s a common misperception that victims fit into some kind of mold,” said Response’s Executive Director Shannon Meyer. “Anyone could be experiencing abuse— your neighbor, colleague, family member — yet you may have no idea that this is happening to them.” Domestic abuse affects people from every education level, socioeconomic class, race, gender, sexual orientation, single or married

Another misperception is that domestic abuse is always physical — it can also be psychological, emotional and financial.

“Abuse can touch anyone and victims don’t fit into any obvious stereotypes,” she said. “A lot of times, people are surprised by that.”

RISING NEED FOR MORE LOCAL VOLUNTEERS

Response operates a 24/7 crisis help line staffed almost entirely by trained volunteers who work 12 hour on-call shifts on weeknights and weekends.

There were 274 calls to the helpline in 2020— and Response always needs more trained volunteers to assist callers in need.

“We rely on our trained volunteers to take shifts on the crisis line. Volunteers give our full time staff a break and keeps them from burning out.”

Volunteers must complete a 30- hour training program that teaches volunteers everything they need
to know to respond to a victim’s immediate needs when they call
in crisis. There is always a backup staff member on-call who can handle more complicated calls should a volunteer need assistance.

“The training provided to become an advocate prepares you to support and empower those in crisis, as well as expands a culture that provides safe harbor to survivors of violence and abuse,” said Greg Shaffran, a proud volunteer for Response since 2014.

Response asks its volunteers to take two on-call shifts per month, so the commitment is relatively minimal. The requirement for the on-call shift is pretty simple: volunteers must remain within cell range during their shifts to ensure they don’t miss a call.

“Our volunteer advocates serve a very important role of stabilizing a caller until they can connect with one of our staff advocates during office hours triaging until the callers can connect with our staff advocates,” Meyer said. “Volunteers need to be able to listen, understand the dynamics of what’s happening, tell them what resources are available and help them into a safe position until they can talk to our staff.”

24-HOUR CRISIS HELPLINE

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or sexual abuse, Response has a 24-hour crisis help- line in the Roaring Fork Valley offering immediate response for victims any day of the week, any hour of the day.

Anyone experiencing domestic violence, sexual abuse or stalking can call 970-925-SAFE (7233) any time day or night if they need help.


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