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Flames in the Flint Hills

fire consuming prairie grass -photo by Jessie Voiers, JVoiers Photography

As you drive across the Flint Hills it is common to see the orange-red glow of a prairie fire dancing across the fields. Living in the Flint Hills, we have grown accustomed to the sights and smells of prairie fire. While the fires bring destruction to the land, we know new growth results from the blaze. We learn to set boundaries, ensure there is proper supervision and then let the fires do their work. As the process unfolds we watch in awe.

Just like the prairie fires, there is another fire that spreads danger across the Flint Hills. The fire of physical and sexual violence. Those flames of violence come in many forms. Our communities are confronted with rape, domestic violence, and child abuse. Of Kansas women, 10.1% report being victims of domestic violence. Children are victimized even more frequently with 1 in four girls and 1 in six boys being sexually assaulted by the age of 18. The smoke that swirls around victims carries fear, uncertainty, and judgment.

Generations of ranchers and farmers have learned ways to tame the fires of the prairie and now generations of well intentioned citizens and professionals must learn how to tame the fire of violence. SOS, Inc. is committed to improving the lives of those affected by sexual and domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. SOS provides advocacy, information and referrals to victims of violence. SOS provides education to community members, parents and professionals on mandated reporting, signs of abuse, healthy relationships and healthy boundaries and how to help when they see violence in someone’s life. Victims of violence can become survivors of violence with the supports provided by SOS. As they receive nonjudgmental support and advocacy services and reestablish a feeling of safety they begin to grow and heal. With continued support survivors of violence can flourish beautifully much like the Flint Hills we love so much.

Are you committed to stopping the fire of violence? Are you moved to help a victim of violence become a survivor? In this battle against violence we must all work together to ensure safety for everyone. We urge you to speak out against violence in any form! Talk to your children, family members and neighbors about violence and what you can do to stop it. Fear grows in silence so take the time to talk about safety planning and healthy boundaries. Also consider the power of your own words. Do the words you use to talk about domestic violence provide support or judgment? Instead of asking “why does she stay?” reframe and ask “why does (s)he hit?” Use your words everyday to empower victims, advocate for safety, and show respect.

The reinvented SOS website has many features to empower visitors to help our mission take hold in the Flint Hills. To learn more about our programs, visit “our services”. To learn how you can help yourself or someone else, the drop-down menu “get help” features ways to help yourself, a friend or family member, a teen victim or a child who may be abused. To learn more about our client’s experiences, visit our gallery to hear their testimonials.

You can also help those in need by volunteering at SOS. If you are interested in volunteering call SOS, 620-343-8799. Another impactful way to stop the spread of violence is by making a donation to SOS. Your donation helps SOS continue to provide advocacy, support and education to our communities. Together we can stop the spread of the fire of violence and celebrate the new growth together.

-submitted by Jessie Voiers