Non-Profit Agency, Sexual Assualt, Victim Service Agency

Sexual Abuse and the Culture of Silence

There has been a lot of recent discussion over the topic of sexual abuse, due in part to media attention being focused on what is occurring in Hollywood. Several women and men have come forward, sharing their experience with the “Culture of Silence”, wherein they were sexually abused, assaulted or harassed by someone in a possible position of authority or seniority over them; someone they knew, worked with, or worked for. Many have further indicated that this social dynamic is a secret, hidden in plain sight and that a lot of people know it has been going on, but rarely does anyone say or do anything about it. Sexual abuse has been treated as commonplace, and this all lends itself to an ongoing cycle of violence.

To stop the cycle, we must work to better understand the violence. Sexual abuse isn’t about sexual gratification. Violent abuse, in any form, is about obtaining power and control over someone. It is characterized as an exertion of one’s power over another, by force that can be physical, emotional, mental, financial, and/or sexual, giving the perpetrator a sense of control over their victim. These acts of sexual violence are done without consent from the victim, also as in instances when a victim is unable to understand or give consent. Consent, as defined by Colorado state law, means “cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will and with knowledge of the nature of the act” (Colorado Revised Statutes Annotated § 18-3-401). Understand that without appropriate consent, any proceeding sexual act can be characterized as an act of violence.

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A method by which an offender may gain more power is when the offender can use their relationship with their victim to gain further, ongoing access and control; this is a common feature in the survivor stories from Hollywood. In 70% of cases of reported rape, the offender was someone known to the victim, including acquaintances, current or former partners, or family members. In a rural setting, a survivor may not feel safe to report due to a lack of anonymity of either both the victim or their attacker, as is typical to characterize small towns with “everybody knows everybody”. Another challenge rural victims can face is a lack of resources or little knowledge about the resources available. These factors, among others, contribute to rape being one of the most under-reported crimes; nearly 65% of rapes are not reported to law enforcement. Survivors of sexual violence can experience shame, self-blame, and guilt, and the fear of not being believed and a culture of victim-blaming only serves to strengthen the “Culture of Silence”.

Coming forward and telling your story is a deeply personal decision; recognize that you are not alone and that support is out there. If you, or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence and is seeking support, whether a report to law enforcement has been made or not, agencies are available to help.

National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673)
Arkansas Valley Resource Center, serving Bent, Crowley, and Otero Counties,
via 24 Hour Hotline at (719) 384-7764

Statistics provided by the Rape, Abuse, & Incent National Network (RAINN)

Non-Profit Agency, Victim Service Agency

Happy Anniversary to Arkansas Valley Resource Center’s Director!

This week marks the 27th Anniversary for our Executive Director, Sandra Leonard!  

Sandy began her work with the Women’s Resource Center by volunteering on the Board of Directors.  In 1990 she transitioned to becoming the new Executive Director.  Since then she has spent her time dedicated to helping victims of crime throughout the Arkansas Valley.  

When Sandy started her service with our agency we were called the Women’s Resource Center and only served female victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.  Quickly, Sandy began working towards expanding the agencies services to include men and women, their children and victims of other crimes.  It took several years and a lot of perseverance but  in 1996 the Women’s Resource Center became Arkansas Valley Resource Center.  With that change we also began serving all victims of violent crime.

As many people know, rural areas tend to have many obstacles when it comes to accessing various resources.  With Sandy’s assistance, AVRC has always strove to collaborate with as many area agencies and businesses as possible in order to better assist our clients.  One of those innovative programs includes our Law Enforcement Advocacy Team.

In 1996, there were several statutes added at both State and Federal levels that require Law Enforcement Agencies to make Victim Advocates available to victims of violent crime.  Our rural area Law Enforcement agencies were going to struggle to find and apply for the funding to cover this requirement.  Sandy met with various Law Enforcement officials in our service area and together they were able to create a plan that benefited everyone.  This is how AVRC’s Law Enforcement Advocacy Team was created.  AVRC is able to dispatch Victim’s Advocates to all of the Law Enforcement Agencies in Bent, Crowley and Otero counties as requested to assist with any victims of violent crime.  AVRC was one of the first agencies to create this type of team.  Since then several other agencies have followed suit throughout the state of Colorado. 

During the last 27 years, Sandy has volunteered for various Boards and Committees both locally and statewide.  There are countless other areas in which she has assisted people in our area and ways she has kept our agency open.  Our staff, clients and community are fortunate that she continues to be a visionary for Arkansas Valley Resource Center.

Thank you for your dedicated service and congratulations for celebrating 27 years!

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Victim Service Agency

Welcome to our new site!

We’re excited to announce our new website.  This site in still in the construction phase so you may notice changes and additional information in the weeks to come.  Our hope is to provide educational information, awareness and support for our community and clients.  AVRC is in the process of a fundraising campaign to build a new residential facility for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Sexual abuse victims to provide safety.  Please refer to the Blair House links for more information.  Keep checking back for more information!

domestic violence, Victim Service Agency

We Believe…

That Violent behavior, like any other human behavior, has been learned and can be unlearned.

That nonviolent ways of expressing anger and frustration can be learned.  In most cases this requires counseling.

That intervention by the criminal justice system can serve as an effective means of preventing further violence in the family.

That no one deserves to be beaten or threatened.  There are no excuses that justify abrasive behavior, sickness or stress.  Violence at home will not “just go away,” but with help it can be stopped.