BOONE — During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, OASIS is hosting a virtual 5K with the hopes that people reflect on intimate partner violence and how it affects the community while completing the event.
Since OASIS canceled its annual Midnight at the OASIS event earlier this year, Outreach Coordinator Sara Crouch said the agency is hosting a virtual 5K fundraiser from Oct. 18-24. People can walk, run, hike or bike at their own pace during that week. While doing so, Crouch hopes that participants will consider their own role in breaking the cycle of violence.
If someone has experienced intimate partner violence, Crouch hopes that they think about their healing journeys and where they are now.
“I want people to take this time when they’re on a walk or a run to be intentionally spent thinking about our mission to break the cycle of violence and what that looks like to them,” Crouch said.
For people who have not experienced intimate partner violence in their own life, Crouch said perhaps they could think about their gratitude of growing up in safe homes and having people around them with healthy relationships.
“After that moment of gratitude, I want people to consider ‘how can I help people who are experiencing this, and how can I be part of the solution?” Crouch said.
The event has a suggested donation of $25. Participants who donate $25 or more will receive a 15 percent coupon to Mast General Store. The person who donates the most money will receive a $100 gift card to Mast with some extra goodies; the person who donates the second highest amount will receive a $25 gift card to Mast. Anyone who registers can get a free water bottle from OASIS as well as will have the option to pay $5 for a mask that says “Believe Survivors” with an OASIS logo. Every dollar raised will go directly to OASIS services, Crouch said.
To register or for more information, visit oasis5k.eventbrite.com.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first observed in October 1981 as a national “Day of Unity.” DVAM is held each October to unite advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence and intimate partner violence, and to remember victims who have died from these crimes. According to Boone Police, one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical abuse by an intimate partner in the U.S.
In an Oct. 8 statement, Boone Police noted that OASIS provides services to victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as those who are seeking resources for others, regardless of an individual’s willingness to seek out the assistance of law enforcement.
“Please help break the cycle of violence and become a partner in creating a community of safety and equality in Boone,” Boone Police stated. “Your support to a victim of a violent crime can help to break the cycle of violence.”
Although COVID-19 has affected some OASIS events, the agency is still offering Domestic Violence 101 workshops for businesses and organizations. During the workshop Crouch refers to intimate partner violence rather than using the phrase “domestic violence,” as she says intimate partner violence aligns more closely to OASIS’s mission.
“OASIS serves survivors of intimate partner violence,” Crouch said. “Domestic violence could be child abuse, it could be if there’s a sibling in the household and they’re abusive to other members of the family or it could even look like abuse that happens between two roommates. Domestic violence is not quite exactly what we mean; we mean violence between an intimate or a romantic relationship.”
OASIS defines intimate partner violence as a pattern of coercive behavior in which one person attempts to control another through threats or abusive tactics which may include physical, sexual, psychological and verbal abuse, according to Crouch. While anger or substance abuse issues can exacerbate intimate partner violence, Crouch said the root cause is a desire for power and control. Another misconception is that only men are perpetrators and only women are victims.
“Any one of any gender can be a victim or harm-doer,” Crouch said. “The statistics that we have indicate that men are most often abusers and women are most often abused; however we know that because of the stigma that goes along with experiencing violence, there’s a lot of people who don’t report — a lot of men don’t report.”
Workshop participants also discuss the ways an abuser might hold power over someone such as through coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing/denying/blaming, using children, economic abuse and using privilege. According to Crouch, people may stay in an intimate partner violence situation because they hope that the partner will change, a lack of resources or the fear of victim blaming and not being believed.
“So many people have a misunderstanding of the realities of intimate partner violence. It leads people to feel maybe judgmental of survivors for not leaving sooner,” Crouch said. “Perhaps they think, ‘That would never happen to me because I would leave.’ My goal when I talk about why people stay and what are the barriers for leaving is to foster some empathy for survivors and to understand that leaving is a process.”
From July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, OASIS served 488 individuals (347 adults, 141 children). The agency sheltered 131 people in its free and confidential shelter program, and 26 families in its supportive housing programs. The agency answered 4,475 calls to its crisis lines during that time. Advocates attended court 299 times with 154 clients, according to Crouch.
Money raised through the October virtual 5K can provide more flexible ways for the agency to help survivors. Community-donated funds — without restrictions of grant requirements — can allow advocates to help families with items such as car repairs to get to work or install security cameras for safety. Funds will also be used for the agency’s shelter, where survivors are given free meals, hygiene products, clothing if needed and some assistance with medications, according to Crouch.
More information about OASIS can be found at www.oasisinc.org. The 24-hour crisis line in Watauga can be called at (828) 262-5035, and in Avery at (828) 504-0911. For emergency assistance, call 911. Additionally, if a victim of domestic or sexual violence is seeking options and information about rights as a victim of a violent crime, contact the Boone Police Department at (828) 268-6900.