ABOUT SBB

START BY BELIEVING IS THE GLOBAL CAMPAIGN TO TRANSFORM THE WAY WE RESPOND TO SEXUAL ASSAULT

It was created by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving criminal justice responses to sexual assault.

Paving The Road To Justice And Healing

Most victims of sexual assault never report the crime to law enforcement, often because of the responses they receive from friends and family members. Our Start by Believing campaign is designed to change this. By preparing both professionals and loved ones to respond appropriately to sexual assault disclosures, we help to improve outcomes for victims – one reaction at a time.

Knowing how to respond is critical, because a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face no consequences for their crimes. What’s worse, this means a victory for the perpetrator, who remains free to rape again. And statistics show that rapists don’t just attack once – many re-offend, often multiple times. It’s a frightening equation: One failed response can mean additional victims. Start by Believing stops this cycle of silence by improving our personal and professional reactions.

More Than A Few Words

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 EVAWI in Chicago, Illinois.

Yet Start by Believing is more than a few words. It is not simply a pledge that an individual might take, or a public awareness campaign that an agency or community might adopt. It is not a specific phrase that needs to be said to victims.

Rather, Start by Believing is a philosophy that should guide our responses to sexual assault. It “flips the script” on the message victims have historically received from professionals and support people, which is: “How do I know you’re not lying?”

To truly implement a Start by Believing approach, this should have profound implications for every aspect of a community’s response to sexual assault. The philosophy should carry over into policies, daily practices, and multidisciplinary protocols of all the agencies that serve the needs of victims.

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