We at Support Within Reach kicked off the “It’s Time to Talk” campaign in late September to raise awareness for sexual violence. The campaign goal is to get businesses and community members talking about sexual violence, even if it’s one conversation or topic at a time.

Sexual violence has become a taboo subject and it carries a heavy stigma, which in turn causes victims and survivors to not want to talk about nor report their assault. We need to start with campaigns like this to get the community talking about sexual violence to support those experiencing it.

Surprisingly, topics related to sexual violence can also be inspiring and uplifting by offering support to victims. The topics don’t have to be the heinous types of sexual violence we most often think of and hear about.

So how does the campaign work? First, local businesses, such as 218 Real Estate and Heroes Rise Coffee who kicked off the campaign, step up to be the first businesses to participate. They then chose topics relating to sexual violence and wrote them on the “It’s Time to Talk About” stickers.

A short video was made in which 218 Real Estate and Heroes Rise Coffee chose to talk about healing, survivors, and respect. They then challenged Giovanni’s of Bemidji to continue the campaign. The video ends with the campaign slogan “It’s time to talk Minnesota about sexual violence.”

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Giovanni’s Pizza continued the campaign by talking about human trafficking and community support. They then challenged Nystrom and Associates, their new neighbors, to continue the awareness campaign talking about high school students and consent. Nystrom and Associates have now challenged Evergreen Youth and Family Services to continue the campaign.

So, watch out businesses in Bemidji because “It’s time to talk,” and you might be next to continue the campaign.

The videos can be seen on all of our Support Within Reach social media pages. Hopefully, soon the campaign will be expanding to surrounding communities that we serve, including Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Hubbard and Itasca counties.

We would like to thank Cool Threads of Bemidji for the amazing T-shirts that highlight the campaign. We also thank Ross Lewis Signs of Bemidji for donating the amazing “Speak Up Minnesota About Sexual Violence” signs we are using during the campaign videos and outreach opportunities.

The donations allow us to continue to highlight the campaign, but it also allows us to continue our mission of reducing the impact and harm of sexual violence in the communities we serve. And we must not forget to thank RP Broadcasting and the crew on 103.7 The Mix for letting us announce the campaign on air.

To our community partners in Bemidji that have helped so far during this campaign, you are amazing, and we thank you for your efforts to combat sexual violence.

Let’s work together in Minnesota to make sexual violence a less taboo and stigmatized subject by having these conversations with each other. Change starts with us community members, businesses, and organizations who choose to speak up and speak out!

Be safe, be happy and have a happy Halloween!

Kori Nelson is the Development and Volunteer Coordinator at Support Within Reach.