Avalon Cheers Pasco County Sunrise

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 exists and that survivors are out there.

“It’s really easy for people to say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t happen in my community,’ and we certainly understand that it does,” says Catt Raley, director of Sexual Assault Services.

“Domestic and sexual violence are issues that touch everyone’s life, whether it happens to us or to someone we know.”

The non-profit organization raises awareness in particular by raising funds for its month-long event, “Dollars for Denim”.

April 27 is “Denim Day,” an international event to fight victim blaming and educate others about sexual violence. Traditionally, participants donate $5 through their employer and wear denim to work. Sunrise will fundraise virtually throughout the month via its website (SunrisePasco.org/donation).

“A lot of people don’t know they have been or are being abused,” Raley said.

“It could be something that has unfortunately happened to them throughout their lives, and for them it’s normal, especially for people who have been sexually abused as children.”

Raley says Sunrise’s goal is to show these people that these actions are not normal.

She suggests people reflect and ask themselves, “Have there been times in my past or current relationships when people make me do anything against my will?”

Sunrise stresses the importance of consent, which the nonprofit defines as “active, voluntary, and consistent.” Raley says consent can be revoked at any time.

“If you actively use or are forced to use a substance, it does not constitute consent. People who are incapacitated or sleeping, that’s not consent either,” Raley explains.

Sunrise provides confidential emergency shelter for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or human trafficking. The shelter can house 40 women and children, but Sunrise of Pasco County also offers services to male survivors.

Sunrise provides free counselling, advocacy and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as family or friends who have been affected by the violence through its awareness program.

For more information about Sunrise of Pasco County and how to offer support or donate, visit SunrisePasco.org or call 352-521-3358. To access its confidential 24-hour hotline, call 352-521-3120.

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