Congratulations to Sunrise of Pasco County (Sunrise), a certified domestic and sexual violence program, for being applauded by Avalon Park Wesley Chapel.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Sunrise hopes to shed light on the fact that sexual violence does exist, and survivors are out there.
“It’s really easy for people to say ‘Oh, this doesn’t happen in my community,’ and we certainly understand that it does,” says Catt Raley, director of Sexual Assault Services.
One way the nonprofit is bringing awareness is by raising funds for its month-long event, “Dollars for Denim.”
April 27 is “Denim Day,” an international event to combat victim blaming and educate others about sexual violence. Traditionally, participants donate $5 through their employers and wear denim at work. Sunrise will be raising funds virtually throughout the month via its website (SunrisePasco.org/donation).
“A lot of folks don’t know they experienced, or are experiencing, violence,” says Raley.
“It could be something that unfortunately happened to them across their lifespan, and to them, it’s normal, especially for folks who’ve experienced childhood sexual abuse.”
Raley says the goal of Sunrise is to show these people that these actions aren’t normal.
She suggests people reflect and ask themselves, “Have there been times in my past or current relationships where folks are making me do anything against my will?”
Sunrise stresses the importance of consent, which the nonprofit defines as “active, willing and consistent.” Raley says consent can be revoked at any time.
“If you are actively or being forced to use a substance, that does not equal consent. People who are incapacitated, or asleep, that’s not consent either,” says Raley.
Sunrise offers an emergency, confidential shelter for survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and/or human trafficking. The shelter has a capacity for 40 women and children, but Sunrise of Pasco County also has services for male survivors.
Sunrise provides free counseling, advocacy, and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as family or friends that have been impacted by violence through its Outreach Program.
For more information on Sunrise of Pasco County, and how to offer support or to donate, go to SunrisePasco.org, or call 352-521-3358. To access its 24-hour confidential hotline, call 352-521-3120.