Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted, 80% of whom are under the age of 30. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes. Because perpetrators attack an average of six times, one failed response can equal five more victims.- Northern Neck Taskforce
One of the negative factors of surviving sexual assault is the blame that often gets put on survivors by the community. Sexual assault survivors often report that blaming the victim is as traumatic as the rape itself. When a survivor is blamed for the crime against them, they often feel isolated by the very community and providers who should be helping them.
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign designed by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) to change the way we respond to rape and sexual assault in our communities.
This campaign has spread across the United States and beyond. Campaigns are starting up in universities, community programs, law enforcement agencies, local sexual and domestic violence agencies and coalitions.
Campaigns across Virginia:
Central Virginia – The campaign involved collaborating with local campuses, including Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the University of Richmond, and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. At VCU, nearly 50,000 students learned about the campaign through a personal email sent by University President Dr. Michael Rao.
Citizens Against Family Violence – started a local broadcast reaching over 52,000 people to promote Start by Believing.
Doorways for Women and Families – On Wednesday, April 6th, 2016, Doorways for Women and Families is joining the first-ever, global Start by Believing Day.
Northern Neck Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition – The Northern Neck Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition along with The Haven Shelter & Services, area Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART), law enforcement, community volunteers, and advocates for individuals who have experienced sexual violence will launch a Start by Believing public awareness campaign on April 6th, 2016, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, across the Northern Neck.
Want to launch a Start By Believing in your area? Go here for instructions and materials.
Carol Olson is the Development Director at the Action Alliance. She was previously the Director of a local rape crisis center. She has continued to engage in community activism through her work with the Alliance and through radio at WRIR 97.3 FM.
Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call804.377.0335.
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