Women in Action at MVHS

Cassidy Pearson, Staff Writer

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“We raised awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence throughout the school, eradicating the misconception that it is an uncommon occurrence,” said Matthew Dahlstrom, senior, and president of DECA about the Women in Action project.

MVHS students and staff teamed up with local Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services (SDVSAS) to help those in need through DECA’s community service project. DECA’s 25 members meet with the purpose to create leadership skills and offer valuable opportunities by giving students a way to take part in various business competitions. DECA decided that as a school we needed to get together as one and create a project to help those who have suffered the mental and physical abuse of sexual assault and domestic violence in our very own county.

Washington state law defines “domestic violence” as physical harm, bodily injury, assault, stalking, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm. Washington state law defines “sexual assault” as non consensual touching either directly or indirectly through clothing. According to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), 1 in 3 women are victims to domestic violence and 1 in 4 men fall to be victims to domestic violence in the United States alone. There are over 10 million domestic violence cases in America alone each year.

DECA’s purpose of the Women in Action project was to change the stigma that domestic violence and sexual assault is uncommon and to bring our community together to help women have a brighter future, all while partnering with the local SDVSAS.

The SDVSAS is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization located off of College Way that provides confidential assistance from a network of employees and volunteers to all of its victims no matter their race, gender, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or economic status. The SDVSAS has been servicing victims in the Skagit Valley area since it first opened its doors in 1979. Their mission is to end domestic violence and sexual assault in our community through empowerment, advocacy, education, awareness, and the action for social change.

The SDVSAS is striving to accomplish this mission by offering crisis intervention, emergency shelters, advocacy-based counseling, support groups, community education, and community prevention. Everything the SDVSAS does is confidential and free to all of their clients, no matter what their age is. Financial support is provided to them by Skagit Valey, the Federal Government, and contributions from individuals through donations.

As an organization they stand for two major philosophies. One is that violence by one person against another is unacceptable at any time. Another philosophy that the SDVSAS represents is the idea that each person has their right to physical, emotional, and sexual safety. The SDVSAS is easily accessible and can be reached through their 24 hour hotline (888) 336-9591.

MVHS DECA held a two week long fundraising drive that raised over 200 articles of clothing and multiple boxes of household hygeine products. Teachers, students, and various staff members flooded into the hallways with an overwhelming abundance of used clothing. Hours were spent folding, labeling, and organizing various clothing items by DECA members so that the clothing could properly be donated to the SDVSAS. They received everything from comfy sweatpants to toothpaste and toothbrushes. This project was apart of a DECA chapter community service event that competed at state in Bellevue on March 3rd.

Women in Action was noticeably influential to students in our community. Students continued to acknowledge the fact that awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence was raised here at MVHS. “ I think it’s really cool that we live in a community full of free thinkers,” said Esther Carpenter, junior. “The Women in Action project left a lasting effect on students and even changed some of their personal values.”

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Women in Action at MVHS