News & Events

News & Events

Denver Launches Campaign to Improve Public Response to Sexual Assault

Local Criminal Justice Agencies and Partners Start by Believing

Denver Press Release

DENVER
– Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Denver public safety and criminal justice officials today announced the launch of a public awareness campaign called Start by Believing - a campaign focused on improving the public response to sexual assault. 

A friend or family member is typically the first person a victim confides in after an assault and each person’s reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Knowing how to respond is critical - a negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where sexual assault predators face zero consequences for their crimes. 

Research documents that sexual predators attack an average of six times, which means one failed response can result in five more victims. Start by Believing will lead the way toward stopping this cycle by informing the public, fostering a positive community and public service response, uniting stakeholders and supporters, and improving personal reactions. The goal is to change outcomes for victims, one positive response at a time.  

 “As a community, we want victims to know we support them and that they don’t have to go through the trauma sexual assault causes alone,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Together we can provide a safe, caring environment where victims are empowered to courageously step forward and take action against those who have harmed them.”

Organizers have launched a campaign web page where the public can locate resources, view videos and survivor stories, listen to podcasts, and find answers to frequently asked questions. 

The Start by Believing campaign is a national endeavor developed by End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). The campaign has been launched in other communities across the nation and has resulted in an increase in reported sexual assaults and survivors seeking services. 

The campaign will be implemented locally by the following partners: The Mayor’s Office, Blue Bench, Sexual Assault Interagency Council, Department of Public Safety, Denver Police Department, Denver Sheriff Department, Denver Fire Department, Denver District Attorney’s Office, and Denver Health.

The campaign is also made possible with generous support from local sponsors: Lamar Advertising, 9NEWS, Outdoor Promotions LLC, Denver Yellow Cab, 123 Decal, and photography by Roddy MacInnes. 

If you or anybody you know has been sexually assaulted, help and resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling the Blue Bench at 303-322-7273 or by visiting the Denver Health Medical Center Emergency Department at 777 Bannock Street. For more information, please visit www.denvergov.org/startbybelieving

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About The Blue Bench:
The Blue Bench (formerly RAAP) is Denver’s only comprehensive sexual assault prevention and support center. Since its founding in 1983, The Blue Bench has worked to eliminate sexual assault and diminish the impact it has on individuals, their loved ones and our community through comprehensive issue advocacy, prevention and care.   

About Denver Health SANEs:
Denver Health Medical Center has specially trained nurses called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist victims of sexual assault. SANEs can provide a physical examination to check for and take care of injuries; a more thorough exam, called a medical forensic examination, to collect any possible evidence, document any injuries and provide medications to help prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV infections; medical information, community resources and answer questions; and access to support and crisis counseling.

About End Violence Against Women International & Start By Believing: 
End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the criminal justice and community response to gender-based violence. EVAWI developed the Start By Believing awareness campaign to be utilized in communities like Denver for their own local efforts.

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