April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Thanks and Upcoming Events from ASPEN's Director 

Dear Friends, 
Thank you to all who attended the 8th Annual Soup to End the Silence event on March 23.  We were delighted to see a full-house for the second year in a row!
We extend our gratitude to all the restaurants, businesses, and volunteers  who donated goods or time to this event.  We could not do it without you!! 
April is Sexual Assault Awareness month.  ASPEN is partnering with four coffee shops – RX Coffee, Coffee Crossings, CHADZ, and Coffee Creek Espresso for the “Cup of Prevention” campaign.  During the entire month of April these coffee houses will be giving a portion of sales to ASPEN for its prevention programs.  Please stop in and purchase coffee and treats from these local establishments and support ASPEN at the same time.  
Summer will be here before you know it.  Please SAVE the DATE:  Saturday, July 14th The ATTIC will host the 3rd Annual Laugh Out Livingston event to benefit ASPEN.  Join renowned comedian, Rich Hall for a laughter filled evening.  The show will open with Quenby landioro – she plays a wonderful mix of music. Tickets will go on sale soon and they will go quickly.  All proceeds from this event will benefit ASPEN’s work to serve victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
And a reminder, ASPEN cannot do its work without your financial support.  If you have not yet made a financial contribution, please consider doing so now.
Heidi Barrett
Executive Director 

Rural Barriers: Unique Challenges

By Mary Baker
ASPEN Program Advocate

Escaping domestic violence in rural settings offers unique challenges. One would think that living in a community where everyone knows you by name would bring you comfort, but the harsh reality is most homes are acres a part and no one can hear screams for help. ASPEN provides services to Park, Meagher, and Sweet Grass Counties, approximately 7,000 square miles. Domestic violence can happen anywhere and just in the last month ASPEN provided services and support for four individuals seeking safety from an abuser that lives in a rural areas. There are many barriers for domestic violence survivors in rural areas, isolation being at the core of these roadblocks.
            Some of the barriers are listed below:
  • Geography: most rural homes are very far apart. A cry for help may not be heard by neighbors. If a call to police is made, the response time is usually longer, increasing the chances of assault or lethality. Internet and cell phone service may also be limited or non-existent.
  • Limited Resources: traditional gender roles are common in rural areas. Most rural families are dependent on farming or ranching and leaving could eliminate their only source of income. Additionally, there tends to be less economic opportunity, and some rural areas suffer from high levels of poverty (domestic shelters.org, 2018). There are often no nearby resources such as domestic violence shelters that offer support for an individual leaving an abusive partner.
  • Transportation: Rural communities typically do not have access to public transportation. The abuser often keeps the car keys so there is nowhere to escape. Road conditions during winter months are also an incredible hurdle and can prevent access to providers. 
  •  Lack of Anonymity and Support: People in rural communities tend to know more about what’s going on in their community, and cultural barriers can include the inability to keep the event private and concern over being judged.. Simply put, most everyone knows everyone, including police officers, judges and firefighters, increasing the chances that the officer who was called for help knows the survivor or the abuser. In some areas the courts only run on a part-time basis, so hearings for protective orders may be delayed. 
  • Increased Firearms: Hunting is very common in rural areas, making guns more common, too. A 2005 report by the U.S. Department of Justice shows that 18 percent of homicides in rural areas were at the hands of an intimate partner, compared to 6 percent in urban areas. Studies have also shown that abusers in rural communities are more likely to cause severe injuries to their partner.

    Domestic violence occurs everywhere; a victim could be your neighbor, a church member or a friend or family member. If you encounter this situation, actively listen, believe them, and help them find safety by contacting a domestic violence organization. Trained professionals are here to help.
 A Rural Barrier. (2015, September 23). Retrieved April 24, 2018, from https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/a-rural-barrier#.Wt-do8iUs2w 

April is Sexual Assault Awanress Month.  This month, take the time to learn about not only the prevelance of sexual assault, but also the ways in which our culture downplays and even in some instances, promotes sexual assault, blames survivors, and consistently does not convict rapists.  Ending sexual assault in our communities takes all of us--we must notice it, speak up about it, react to it, call it out, and always support and believe survivors.
If you would like more information about sexual assault prevention or want to provide an educational opportunity to your business or organization, contact ASPEN's Prevention Coordinator at abbie@aspenmt.org. 
"It's On Us" by the University of Utah
PO Box 653 (Mailing)
411 E. Callender Street (Street)
Livingston, MT  59047
Office:  406-222-590224-Hour Support Line:  406-222-8154
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