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More Compassion for Sexual Assault Victims

Police, City Adopting  "Start by Believing" Campaign to Help People Come Forward

The Police Department has embraced the “Start by Believing” campaign to encourage everyone to treat sexual assault victims with more consideration and care.

“Start by Believing” launched in April 2011 by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). This nonprofit, dedicated to improving criminal justice responses to sexual assault, found a critical challenge is that most victims of sexual assault never report the crime. 

The public is welcome to go up to the Justice Center to sign the pledge! The center is located at 50 W. Community Center Drive.

Decades of research has found that when a victim discusses his or her assault, he or she faces doubt and blame, rather than compassion and support – often coming from friends and family members.

These negative reactions decrease the likelihood that victims will report their sexual assault to law enforcement or seek services that could help them.

Also, support from professionals, friends and family largely determines whether a victim will remain engaged throughout the criminal justice proceedings. 

When speaking to law enforcement and other support professionals, victims are confronted with the message of “how do I know you’re not lying?” 

Police and prosecutors must start from the presumption that a sexual assault report has merit and then follow up with a fair, impartial and evidence-based investigation.

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The Police Department and the city are outwardly supporting the "Start by Believing" campaign in April, which is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

  • Police vehicles will display teal ribbons, as seen to the left. 
  • The Justice Center atrium lights will be turned teal.
  • City staff will wear teal on Fridays.