Nearly 20 years ago, Marta (not her real name), called to report a domestic violence incident. Despite the fact that her husband had obviously smashed her head into the oven door, shattering it, and leaving her with blood streaming from lacerations in her head, Marta was treated as if she were the perpetrator. Once she convinced the officers that she was the victim, it took the police more than two weeks to locate her husband, even though he was a well-known business owner and lived at his store following the incident.
Local law enforcement agencies have a new approach to sexual violence and assault. Police have received specialized training so they can respond appropriately. Now there are more community partners and resources for victims. And victims are gaining the courage to speak out rather than sit by silently.
Led by Magic’s own Leza Lachapelle Dandos, a crowd of more than 200 people stood in front of the Courthouse square to proclaim, “NO More” to sexual assault and violence in the quad-city community before marching around the perimeter three times.
This event wasn’t some angry, partisan, feminist rally. This was a group of men and women of all ages who came together as a united front to offer support to those that had been assaulted, and to commit to doing everything they can to prevent violence in the future. Local elected officials such as County Attorney Sheila Polk and Prescott Councilman Steve Sischka participated. Sheriff Scott Mascher was also on hand wearing a “No More” button on his lapel. Local Police Chiefs attended as a show of support. College students from Embry-Riddle and baseball players from Yavapai College were amongst the participants. In fact, it appeared that there were more men than women participating in the rally.
Prescott Police Chief Monahan as the keynote speaker stressed the need to serve victims, building trust and restoring hope, acknowledging that, “We have work to do to create a safe place, a place where we support those who speak up.”
Perhaps the words with the most impact, however, came from Annabelle, a survivor of multiple sexual assaults who shared her story. She started with the statement, “My childhood was filled with dark secrets…”
But, Annabelle didn’t end on that note. Instead, she firmly said, “These events do not define me. There is hope to get through sexual assault. There are people who care and believe you…"
Afterwards, Sheriff Scott Mascher spoke about the significance of the event:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students explained why they felt they should support the NO More effort:
Prescott Valley Detective James Tobin, who is also with the Yavapai County Community Coordinated Response Team, spoke about the Wednesday evening event and discussed the three steps people can take. "You can intervene if you feel safe to do so, you can tell somebody, or at the very least, you can support the victim. That’s three easy things everybody can do,” Tobin said.