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Memphis Says No More rolls out new MATA bus signs

Memphis Says No More has linked with MATA to bring new signage as a reminder in the fight against domestic and sexual assault.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Domestic violence and sexual assault have been at the forefront of many conversations nationally.

One in four women and one in nine men experience domestic violence. When it comes to sexual assault, the ratio is even smaller. Those are only the cases reported.

Memphis Says No More has linked with MATA to bring new signage as a reminder in the fight against domestic and sexual assault.

"When I see these buses, I see words that I did not see for a long time. We believe you and this is not normal," said Devin Dearmore, a sexual assault survivor.

For Dearmore and other survivors, it is a message that speaks volumes.

"This messaging is the first step to de-stigmatizing discussions about verbal abuse and sexual harassment and assault," said Dearmore.

Rolling past every bus stop and street in the City of Memphis is the new messaging from the Memphis Says No More campaign.

"MATA goes everywhere. They are not a billboard. They're all over the place. We have three distinct faces, very diverse and inclusive faces for this set of bus signs," said Deborah Clubb, Memphis Area Women's Council Executive Director and Memphis Says No More coordinator.

They are hoping to pull in youth, Spanish-speaking residents, and men.

"Our particular focus now is on men, whose behavior needs to change most of all, for these crimes to diminish. And on teens and youth who need help making decisions and getting help when they are hurt," said Clubb.

Make no mistake. Memphis Says No More also recognizes victims who do not often speak up such as men. The messages serve as a reminder.

"Memphis Says No More is an effort if anything to rebuild trust, that we are paying attention, that many, many people care about what happens to victims," said Clubb.

"Every survivor who sees these buses, that no matter how alone they feel, they are not alone," said Dearmore.

That includes survivors of verbal abuse, which is the latest push from the organization. The bus signs also say "#NOMOREVerbalAbuse.

"The other thing it can do is break the silence, and help survivors and victims know that they should speak, and can speak up, for themselves and get help," said Clubb. "Verbal abuse, which is also sometimes thought of as emotional abuse, or is a part of psychological abuse, is a huge problem and it's one that they say as many as almost half of us in this country will have relationships where that happens."

Verbal abuse can at times be tough to acknowledge.

"It's not criminalized specifically, but there are elements where you're stalked through text messages or you're harassed and threatened through technology," said Clubb.

Verbal abuse is often not discussed as much as physical or sexual abuse, which in Memphis has seen improvement when it comes to finding suspects.

The rape kits have been instrumental.

"Now, we can say that all everything has been through today's level of DNA testing," said Clubb. "That's how MPD can move forward, recognizing that some of the perpetrators are already in jail. Some are already dead. Some have been identified and have been arrested. Through this process, some really horrible people are put away for a very long time. Some really horrible creatures. That's satisfying. That's really satisfying."

That process is done through the Memphis Sexual Assault Task Force, which Memphis Says No More helps.

Clubb said the legal process after a perpetrator has been identified does take long, sometimes years.

As for the bus campaign, the signs will remain on the interior and exterior of MATA buses for the next five months.

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