Delaware, OH – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and HelpLine Sexual Assault Response Network (SARN) is promoting the message, “Start by Believing” (SBB), through providing education on appropriate responses to sexual assault disclosures. Affirming responses lead to improved access to support resources for Survivors while ending the cycle of silence. Created by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI), SBB challenges the victim-blaming messages which lead to feelings of guilt, shame and isolation for Survivors. Instead, SBB paves the way for Survivors to pursue healing and justice, coupled with support from their loved ones and their communities.
“There are so many critical steps and decisions that a Survivor may have to take and each step is a link in the chain of support,” said Lauren MacDade, HelpLine Sexual Assault and Victim Services Director. “Like any chain, one weak link can compromise the strength of the others.” MacDade continued to say that when a friend or family member doesn’t believe the Survivor it may leave them feeling isolated from support. Further, when systems do not believe Survivors, their case may not be investigated, or they may feel they cannot reach out for help, resulting in a lack of access to the support and justice they seek.