Lewis University has once again participated in the “Start By Believing” campaign, which is a national campaign aimed at addressing the main barrier to reporting violence – the fear of not being believed. The campaign is run by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) and is focused on creating a culture of respect and support, where survivors of violence feel comfortable coming forward for assistance.
The campaign is meant for both formal resources, such as law enforcement and faculty/staff, as well as informal support, such as family and friends. The goal is to encourage everyone to believe survivors of violence and provide them with the support they need.
Kayla DeCant, project director of prevention and outreach stated, “This year, we had over 300! So we are really excited to see the increased involvement from on and off campus partners.”
“Awareness is such an important part of ending violence. When we stay silent, we make survivors feel alone, stigmatized, and shamed. They may think that there is no one to help them, or that they are not deserving of support.” said DeCant.
She also stated “Having a public conversation about sexual violence, understanding consent, and speaking out against rape myths can create a culture where survivors feel supported and believed. We want everyone at Lewis to know that sexual violence is never their fault, and that there are resources on and off campus that are here to support them, no matter where or when their experience occurred.”
The university has been involved in the campaign for two years now, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In 2022, the college received over 75 pledge signatures, while this year, they received over 300. The increased involvement from on and off-campus partners, including Residence Life, LUPD, Center for Health & Counseling, State’s Attorney, Guardian Angel Community Services and more, highlights the commitment of the Lewis community to supporting survivors of violence.
The way in which the university brought awareness this year is by hosting events, where they placed tables in BJG Student Center as well as Charlie’s Place, and students, faculty and staff were able to sign their pledge.
In a video posted by LUPD, all the members of the different departments previously mentioned, say the phrase “We start by believing.”
The “Start By Believing” campaign is supported by research that shows that the fear of not being believed is a significant barrier to reporting violence. By encouraging people to start by believing survivors, the campaign hopes to reduce the stigma associated with reporting violence and to increase the number of survivors who come forward for support and assistance.
By participating in the “Start By Believing” campaign, Lewis is demonstrating its commitment to supporting survivors of violence and creating a culture of respect and support.
Phot Credit: Olivia Brzek