ASU Police Department supports victims of sexual violence
The Arizona State University Police Department is joining other police agencies across the nation in signing the “Start by Believing” proclamation in support of victims of sexual violence.
“Many sexual violence victims feel that the very people that they turn to for help often don’t believe them and are critical of them," said Daniel Macias, Arizona State University Police Sergeant. "This only serves to further their victimization. This is a message of support for those survivors, one that we hope will encourage them to report offenses and allow the system to hold the offender accountable.
"We’re also the first university police department in Arizona to sign the proclamation.”
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign designed to change the way we respond to rape and sexual assault in our communities. 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 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. ASU’s proclamation is signed by President Michael Crow and Police Chief John Pickens.
The campaign by End Violence Against Women International seeks to stop the cycle of crime, since rapists attack an average of six times. Therefore, a failed response can equal five more victims, according to the Start by Believing website.
The public awareness campaign started to bring attention to victims of sexual assault, and not revictimize them through disbelief when they report the crime. Disbelief may come from friends, family, nurses, law enforcement or others whom the victim normally would expect to support them.
“Sometimes victims will come forward and they may not be believed or are told they brought it on themselves,” Macias said. “There are many instances that aren’t reported because of fear of being told that someone brought it on themselves. This type of thinking needs to change. We need to start by believing victims of sexual assault when they come forward. It’s traumatic enough.”
Signing the proclamation coincides with Sexual Assault Awareness month in April. Events at ASU include a lunch presentation on healthy relationships, free testing for sexually-transmitted diseases, a sexual health fair, queer health care and self advocacy, and sexual assault prevention and response. More information about events may be found at http://www.sexualwellnessweek.com/events.