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Believing survivors is sweeping across Alberta
#IBelieveYou campaign story
Albertans are having a tangible impact on the health and safety of our province by committing to one simple idea: that when a survivor of sexual assault discloses, we start by believing. That one simple idea is taking hold in Alberta.
Waves of post-secondary institutions, student, business, and community leaders, media personalities, politicians, and every day Albertans have participated in this campaign that supports survivors with a powerful message of support.
This increase in public support for survivors is helping to increase sexual assault reporting significantly, making our communities healthier and safer for everyone.
Here’s how growing public support for survivors is helping them feel safe to come forward:
Historically, survivors have been afraid to tell for fear of not being believed. That fear is fading. When we see an increase in reporting, we know we’re doing a better job of helping survivors feel safe to tell.
Practical steps for responders:
While it is critical to address bystanders and perpetrators, responder education is equally vital—and often much more achievable. People want to be part of the solution. Here are some tips:
If someone discloses to you, the best response is to start by believing. Believing is something you can show, do, and say.
Unless a child is involved, reporting to police is optional, and there is no time limit on reporting.
Respect their decision, whatever it may be
The role of friends and family is not to play judge and jury, but to start by believing. When people start by believing, due process can happen, but the choice to report belongs to the survivor.
Avoid asking “why” questions. Even people with the best intentions can sound accusatory.
Let them know it’s not their fault. No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Other positive words include I’m sorry that happened, and how can I help.
If you’ve doubted someone in the past, remember it’s never too late to start believing.
Despite the positive trends in Alberta, the national reporting rate for sexual assault remains at five per cent. So, while we’ve made great gains, but we still have a distance to go.
This year, the goal is to encourage Albertans to join the conversation in support of sexual assault survivors. In the last year, we have seen a sea change in responder attitudes toward sexual assault survivors. #Metoo has swept across the world, and is impacting not just Hollywood, but business and political centres of influence. This tremendous cultural shift is both celebrated – and questioned. That’s why we are engaging Albertans in conversation around #IBelieveYou …Now What? We will be posting videos from our organization, sexual assault centres across the province and Alberta post secondary institutions.
Together, we can make an even bigger impact on the lives of survivors, and make our communities healthier and safer for everyone.