Derek Johnson, a Grand County High School intern at Seekhaven, spray-paints styrofoam cups spelling out the words “No More” for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. [Photo courtesy of Seekhaven]

Throughout October, Seekhaven is raising awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault.

Seekhaven also wants to engage the community in ending both with the No More campaign.

The campaign is a national effort to empower bystanders to take action. National Football League (NFL) players and other celebrities have recorded public service announcements countering common dismissive comments, that often blame the victim.

Local voices from the high school, law enforcement and more will reinforce the message that we as a community will take responsibility to stop violence and sexual assault, through radio spots and social media. The words “No More” are spelled out on the fences of sports fields.

“Abuse is a real problem,” said Derek Johnson, a senior at Grand County High School, who is helping with the campaign. “We need to recognize it and not let it happen in our community. Before getting involved, I didn’t think about it or understand how common it is.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three women and one in four men will experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes. Meanwhile, one in three teens experience sexual or physical abuse or threats each year from their boyfriend or girlfriend.

In the last year, 39 protective orders were filed in the Seventh District Court in Moab. During the same time period, Moab City Police responded to 30 domestic violence incidents. In addition, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office responded to eight domestic violence offenses between January and July. Those numbers do not reflect abuse that has gone unreported.

“The victims are our friends and our families,” said Kristin Johnson, Seekhaven’s director of outreach and education. “These are people we meet and work with throughout town.”

The No More campaign focuses on countering dismissive comments that will often blame the victim. It also encourages people to be “engaged bystanders.”

According to the No More website, an engaged bystander is someone who intervenes when they see or hear behaviors that promote, condone or encourage domestic or sexual violence. It stresses that intervening does not mean putting yourself in danger or increasing the risk to others.

Ways to intervene may be to learn the warning signs and red flags of abusive relationships.

“We often think of physical violence, but abusive relationships often begin with emotional abuse or financial control,” Johnson said.

Upon seeing warning signs, an engaged bystander can talk privately with the victim, and ask if they would like some help.

“Remember to listen and not judge,” she said.

Engaged bystanders can also refer people to Seekhaven. Or, if they are worried about a friend or family member, they can call Seekhaven to get more information on how to give support.

Even if one isn’t ready to leave an abusive relationship, he or she is welcome at Seekhaven to find the resources and support they need. All services are confidential.

If you would like to submit a “No More” video, please post on Seekhaven’s Facebook page and use the hashtag #MoabNoMore. For more information, contact Seekhaven at 435-259-2229.

National effort empowers bystanders to take action