Victim Services and SART Promote National Campaign
April is national Sexual Assault Awareness Month and to promote the campaign locally, members of the Palm Beach County Victim Services’ Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) office, located at 4210 North Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach, decorated a field with 642 flags. This figure is the total number of new sexual assault victims assisted through advocacy and/or therapy over the past year.
Victim Services employees inscribed “We Believe” on the fence surrounding the field. Start By Believing is the newest campaign supported by Palm Beach County. It is a program through End Violence Against Women International with the goal of changing the way we respond to sexual assault in our communities.
Sadly, most victims do not come forward to report the crime for various reasons, including associated stigma and fear of not being believed. Because of this, awareness regarding reporting options and availability of help is greatly needed. The Start By Believing campaign is trying to shift the community’s thinking to one that does not blame victims for their assault.
Changing our response to sexual assault is important because according to the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, only 18% of forcible rapes are reported to law enforcement. If victims feel they will be believed and supported, it is more likely that they will report to police or request services.