Graham County Attorney’s Office helps kick off Victim’s Awareness Week with Sexual Abuse Awareness Walk

Contributed Photo: The Graham County Attorney’s Office and Victim Witness Department teamed up with the Mt. Graham Safe House to kick off Victim Awareness Week. Pictured are, from left, Jlynn Bartlet, Suzie Alvarez, Heather Jacobs, and Elizabeth Gardner.

Contributed Article

SAFFORD – The Graham County Attorney’s Office and the Graham County Victim Witness Department have teamed up with the Mt. Graham Safe House to host the third annual Victim Awareness Week and Day of Recognition. This event, which recognizes crime victim survivors, serves to inform the public of the challenges that victims face and the resources available to all who are victimized. 

The event kicked off with a Day of Recognition on Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. in front of the Graham County Courthouse. Thursday’s activities included an invitation to all to join the Mt. Graham Safe House team, prosecutors, victim advocates, and victim-survivors on a Sexual Abuse Awareness Walk which served as the official kick-off the Victim Awareness Week. Following the Sexual Abuse Awareness Walk, attendees met back at the courthouse for a program with speakers presenting victims and the community. 

Contributed Photo: Attendees march for sexual assault awareness.

A balloon release following the program closed the Day of Recognition.

The theme of Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2023 is “Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity.” This April’s campaign calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect. 

Contributed Photo: Graham County Attorney L. Scott Bennett takes in the scene with DJ Fresh “Elijah James Lopez”, who manned the turntable for the kickoff event.

We can trace a line from sexual violence to systems of oppression, and we can’t end sexual violence without also ending racism. Drawing Connections: Prevention Demands Equity calls on all individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to change ourselves and the systems surrounding us to build racial equity and respect.

Systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and others contribute to higher rates of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse. So often, we are unaware of how historical conditions have shaped our lives and how we move throughout the world, specifically, forms of privilege with the many identities we each hold. As such, we recognize that it will take ending all forms of oppression to end sexual violence worldwide.

Highlighting one of the pressing issues we see impacting not just equity within our movement to end violence but negatively affecting the life, freedom, and dignity of people across the world is anti-Blackness. In addressing prevention, we must take steps to undo the systemic ways anti-Black racism shows up in our communities. 

Discussions about racial issues, racism, equity, and inclusion are often avoided due to feeling uncomfortable and risks. Being uncomfortable is okay – but to address the social exclusion, unequal access to resources, disproportionate exposure to harm, and unjust prejudice that people of color face, we must show up with courage and humility. We can help create change if we take the time to hear, understand, and recognize one another. 

Contributed Photo: Attendees walk through Downtown Safford during the Sexual Abuse Awareness March on Thursday.

Drawing connections between ourselves, history, and the world around us is necessary for changing the future.

Sexual violence is an umbrella term that includes any type of unwanted sexual contact — including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse.