FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Law enforcement, community members and students gathered at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith Friday (Feb. 14) for United Way’s 5th Annual "Rising in the River Valley."
“I lost a childhood friend to domestic violence. She was someone I went to school with. I think it’s important for all Arkansans, need to speak up and reach out to someone who might be a victim of domestic violence,” said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.
Rutledge says, unfortunately, they see domestic violence start at young ages.
“We want young boys and girls to understand that it is not okay to harm another person," she said. "It is not okay to be harmed. And so, any relationship that has turned violent is a relationship that I encourage and implore you to get out of because there is a better plan for you.”
President and CEO of United Way of Fort Smith Area, Eddie Lee Herdon says the "Rising in the River Valley" is not just happening here but is a worldwide event that’s held at noon on Valentine’s Day. He says statistics show that one in five women will be raped in their lifetime.
“When you just look at a student body you know that unfortunately if there is five girls walking, one out of five has experienced it, so we just want to reach a hand out, reach out our hearts and say, you know we have got to stop this epidemic and we are here for those who are victims,” Herdon said.
The Department of Justice says one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually used by the time they turn 18.