One failed response... five more assaults.
Stop the cycle and make our communities safer.
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign uniquely focused on the public response to sexual assault. Because a friend or family member is typically the first person a victim confides in after an assault, each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Knowing how to respond is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where sexual assault predators face zero consequences for their crimes.
Because rapists attack an average of six times, one failed response can equal five more victims. Start by Believing will lead the way toward stopping this cycle, by creating a positive community response, informing the public, uniting allies and supporters, and improving our personal reactions. The goal is to change the world, and outcomes for victims, one response at a time.
Start by Believing was launched during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2011 in conjunction with the International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking hosted by EVAW International April 11-13 in Chicago. The campaign featured unique messaging and campaign materials, web and social media outreach and opportunities for corporate partnership and support.
Strengthening the System … By Improving the Response
The Start by Believing campaign is brought to you by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI).
EVAW International is the only organization dedicated to improving the criminal justice response to violence against women on every level — within the professions tasked with responding to victims and across society as a whole.
Why? Because EVAW International recognizes the many steps a survivor must take on the road to justice and healing. Reaching out to a friend or loved one to say she’s been sexually assaulted… calling the police and being interviewed in embarrassing detail… submitting to a medical forensic exam that could take hours… talking with advocates and counselors about an incredibly painful experience… and participating in an investigation that disrupts her life… all of this to hold a rapist accountable, so everyone can live in a safer community.
There are so many steps. And each step is a link in the chain of support. But like any chain, one weak link can compromise the strength of the others. A police officer doesn’t believe and refuses to conduct an investigation. A doctor or nurse doesn’t believe and fails to provide an exam. A friend doesn’t believe and accuses her of “crying rape.” Just a single negative reaction can mean the whole chain falls apart.
What’s worse, this means a victory for the rapist. He remains free to rape again. And statistics show that he won’t just attack once — because rapists attack an average of six times. It’s a frightening equation: one failed response equals five more assaults.
We must do better. And we can do better. At EVAW International, we know how. We have the expertise, the resources, the tools and the models for best practice to help communities strengthen every link in their chain of response. For more information, please visit our website.