Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kansas City at forefront of "Start by Believing" campaign

Kansas City is leading the way in a national campaign to stop sexual violence. End Violence Against Women International launched the "Start by Believing" campaign in late April, and Kansas City is the first city in the country to launch a billboard campaign. KCPD Sex Crimes Detective Catherine Johnson, a member of End Violence Against Women, was able to partner with Lamar Advertising on a billboard campaign that put the Start by Believing message on 17 electronic billboards around the city starting in early May. (The above billboard is on Interstate 35, just before Armour in North Kansas City.) We really appreciate Lamar's generosity in this effort. Detective Johnson is now working with billboard advertisers in New York City, St. Louis and other cities to get the message out across the country.

We also have Start by Believing posters in all our patrol stations and in our Sex Crimes Section, and Special Victims Unit Captain Mark Folsom presented about the campaign to the International Association of Chiefs of Police's Leadership Institute for Violence Against Women.

What does "Start by Believing" mean in terms of ending sexual violence? This is how End Violence Against Women puts it:

"There is no shame when your loved one dies. When your car is stolen. When you’re diagnosed with cancer. Friends and loved ones gather around you for support. They don’t blame you for 'bringing it on yourself.'

"It should be the same with sexual violence. But all too often, survivors who have the courage to tell someone what happened are blamed for bringing it on themselves. This needs to change.

"Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign designed to change the way we respond to rape and sexual assault in our communities."

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