Cedar City joins ‘Start By Believing’ campaign to help sexual assault victims

CEDAR CITY (ABC 4 Utah) – Officials in Cedar City said they received 80-90 reports of sexual assault crimes in 2014 and believe that too many women are staying silent about a rape or assault.

“As police officers, we do feel like it’s underreported. We feel like there may a stigma attached or intimidation from the perpetrator,” said Lt. Darin Adams of Cedar City Police.

Cedar City Police and Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Shelter (CCWCC) have teamed together to join the public awareness campaign called ‘Start By Believing’.

“We’ve seen a trend in the increase of sexual assault crimes throughout the past years and we were very eager and excited to support this very worthy effort,” Lt Adams said.

The ‘Start By Believing’ Campaign focuses on how family, friends and the community should respond to victims of sexual assault.

“Before a victim even gets to law enforcement, they’re probably going to tell a family or a friend. Instead of giving a response like ‘Well, what were you wearing? Were you drinking? Who were you with? Those are the kind of responses that can make a victim feel they’re being blamed and they might not report it,” said Bailey DeRoest, Director of CCWCC.

So what should someone say instead?

“We want people to start by believing them. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to say, ‘I believe you’. It means you’re going to validate them and tell the victim , “You know that’s really terrible that happened to you. Nobody deserves to have that happen to them,” she explained.

According to the ‘Start By Believing” website, rapists attack an average of six times. One police report can put an offender behind bars and save five women.

From housing to protection orders, the Canyon Creek Women’s Shelter helps women to heal.

“When victims or survivors come in, we teach our advocates to support them and offer them resources, to safety plan with them, to meet them where they feel most comfortable. We don’t tell them what to do but we have the victim tell us what their needs are,” DeRoest told ABC4’s Tasmin Mahfuz.

For more information on how to get help, contact:

Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center: http://ccwcc.org/
Cedar City Police: (435) 586-2956
CCWCC Business Line: 435-867-9411
CCWCC Domestic Violence Hotline:435.865.7443 (TTY accessible)
CCWCC Rape & Sexual Assault Hotline:435.867.6149 (TTY accessible)
CCWCC Mobile Crisis Team Hotline: 435.233.5732
CCWCC Outreach Center: 95 N Main Street Suite #22 Cedar City, Utah 84720

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