SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Central Coast lawyers and rape victim advocates are reeling over videos, tweets and photos documenting an alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.
"It's horrifying to see the attitudes that we have in our culture," says SARP psychologist Kimberly Lonsway. "Many people describe it as a rape culture where we go to great lengths to deny that rape exists, to trivialize it, to minimize it's impact...even to the point of turning it into a joke."
With 286 rape crisis interventions last year alone, San Luis Obispo Sexual Assault and Rape Prevention (SARP) is launching a campaign to end sexual violence called "Start By Believing".
"If somebody discloses they've been sexually assaulted, you need to start by believing them," says SARP Associate Executive Director Jesse Torrey. "And if they are responded to with support, with validation, with 'how can I help?', with 'this wasn't your fault'...that's the road to healing.