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Rape Crisis Center says to start by believing
April 13, 2016
"When showing support for a rape victim, start by believing"; at least that's what San Antonio's Rape Crisis Center advises. The Rape Crisis Center officially joined the Start By Believing Campaign on April 8, by inviting community members to take the pledge to believe survivors of sexual assault when they come forward.
Prominent figures in San Antonio joined the pledge by taking pictures with signs that promise "when someone tells me they were raped or sexually assaulted, I start by believing." Mayor Ivy Taylor and Councilman Ray Lopez were among many San Antonio household names to take the pledge.
#StartByBelieving is a national, public awareness campaign encouraging positive community response victims of sexual violence. The San Antonio launch featured guest speakers who shared their personal stories of sexual violence.
One Rape Crisis Center Coordinator shared her story of disclosing that she was raped to her friends and family.
"When I went back, after being assaulted, to my girlfriend's dorm room and told her what had happened, the words out of her mouth were 'don't be a freshman trying to make a name for yourself'."
Her story wasn't unique at the event. Event attendees were encouraged to post how people reacted to their sexual assault disclosures. The posts were displayed for community members to grasp the impact of accepting or denying a survivor's claim.
Crisis Intervention Specialist and Community Educator, Dr. Brittany Chozinski, discussed the impact that not believing has on society's most marginalised populations. According to Chovinski, society tends to over-sexualise and fetishise LGBT persons and sex workers in particular.
"[Some sex workers] will be raped as often as 8-9 times per year," according to Chozinski. "We as a culture tend to obsess over their sexuality... and in doing so reduce their personhood to a sexual category. [As a result], both sex workers and the LGBT community find themselves objectified and dehumanised."
Chozinski explains that the over-sexualisation and demonisation of those communities results in one major commonality: "the overwhelming, unlikelihood of reporting [sexual assault] for one shared reason... belief."