Sexual Assault Awareness Month Start by Believing Campaign

In commemoration of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April 2021), the Alachua County Victim Services & Rape Crisis Center, the Gainesville Police Department, and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office have launched an online platform as part of the local “Start by Believing” campaign. Community members are encouraged to participate in the campaign and become a voice for change by adding their name to the local online campaign.

Start by Believing is an international campaign that began in 2015 by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). The campaign confronts harmful ways of thinking about sexual violence that are still prevalent today. This is done by focusing on a message that is clear, and gets at the heart of what continues to allow sexual violence to go unchecked in our society (the widely held assumption that victims and survivors caused their victimization). Myths like this make it difficult for victims to report the crime to law enforcement or seek medical and recovery services. The Start by Believing campaign asks everyone to commit to believing victims and survivors when they come forward.

When talking about the reason the Center chose this campaign, Jessie Lazarchik said, “Real change takes place when we confront stereotypes and myths, and listen more closely to voices that have been silenced for far too long. We want to be a community that listens and supports survivors, and we know that many others want that too.” 

Survivors, and those affected by sexual violence who want to speak with a counselor, should call the Alachua County Victim Services and Rape Crisis Center’s 24/7 helpline at 352-264-6760 or 866-252-5439.

For more information, contact Alachua County Sexual Assault Program Manager Jessie Lazarchik at 352-264-6767 or jlazarchik@alachuacounty.us.

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