FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 16, 2020
CONTACT: Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director Karents@vtnetwork.org
The Vermont Network Announces ‘Uplift VT’, a New Campaign to Change the Conversation on Domestic and Sexual Violence
Montpelier, Vt., – The Vermont Network is proud to launch a new community engagement campaign, Uplift VT, to raise awareness around domestic and sexual violence (DSV) in Vermont, its costs to our communities, and the ways in which Vermont can do more to prevent it from occurring.
“As many Vermonters isolate at home, sheltering from COVID, there is another hidden pandemic stalking our communities behind closed doors,” said Karen Tronsgard-Scott, Executive Director of the Vermont Network. “Last year, 19,000 hotline calls were made by Vermonters seeking support and resources due to domestic violence or sexual abuse, and almost 9,000 people sought out in-person help. With thousands of Vermonters experiencing DSV each year, too many of our family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues are not safe. Every Vermonter has the right to live their life free from violence, and this violence is preventable. We can and must do more.”
Although it is often unseen, domestic and sexual violence happens in every corner of Vermont. Research indicates that one in three women and one in four men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime and that one in four women and one in nine men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
This is not a new problem for the state: for the past 25 years, half of all of the most violent crimes in Vermont—homicides—have been related to domestic violence. In some years, Vermont has ranked in the top 10 states in the nation for our rate of domestic violence homicide. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic and the much needed Stay at Home orders have exacerbated the issues of domestic and sexual violence in Vermont.
The impacts of DSV are deep and lasting and extend beyond the immediate survivors. Costs to society include the immediate healthcare and legal needs of survivors, as well as the social costs over their lifetimes resulting from loss of educational attainment, productivity, and employment. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nationally, “the costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of [intimate partner violence (IPV)] also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work.” The CDC estimates that survivors of IPV “lose a total of nearly 8 million days of paid work—the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs.”
Little is known about the cumulative community and statewide costs of DSV specific to Vermont, and the Uplift VT campaign is working to unveil that data. The campaign is currently conducting a study on the economic impact of domestic and sexual violence on the state. This will be the first study to highlight these costs here in Vermont. This data will inform the campaign’s strategy to target the primary causes of violence against Vermonters.
“Unless you are directly impacted by domestic and sexual violence, sometimes it feels like this issue doesn’t exist in our communities,” said Kelsey Rice, a survivor from the Brattleboro area. “I am here to tell you that it’s likely that every Vermonter knows someone who has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, even if that person hasn’t shared their story. It’s hard to talk about when it happens to you or your children, because of the shame involved. But it’s time for Vermont to step up and start talking about this and how we can prevent more people from getting hurt in the future.”
The Uplift VT campaign officially launches on December 16th. Those who would like to get involved in the movement should visit http://www.vtnetwork.org/uplift
About the Vermont Network
The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (Vermont Network) is Vermont’s leading voice to end domestic and sexual violence. Our mission is to create a world free from oppression where actions, beliefs and systems support all people to thrive. The Vermont Network is a membership organization. Our members are 15 independent non-profit organizations across Vermont that serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The Vermont Network convenes and supports this coalition of member organizations to work together to engage communities in the shared work of ending domestic and sexual violence in our state. Learn more at www.vtnetwork.org