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Ohio's 'Start By Believing' campaign aims to transform community response to sexual assault


The Ohio University Police Department is partnering with the Survivor Advocacy Program, Office for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Campus Involvement Center to present “Start by Believing: What happens after a sexual assault is reported” on Monday, Oct. 8 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Nelson Commons. 

The event will feature a moderated conversation between survivor, Brie Sivy, an OHIO junior, Det. Mathew Austin, the OUPD detective who investigated her case, and Kim Castor, Director of the Survivor Advocacy Program. 

“We think it is more critical than ever to bring this informative and supportive program to OHIO,” Ohio University Chief of Police Andrew Powers said. “After introducing it months ago and having such an inspirational survivor like Brie willing to share her story, I think it will have a huge impact on the community and the way we help survivors of sexual assault.” 

First introduced to OHIO at the kick-off event in March, the “Start by Believing” campaign is a global movement that hopes to improve the responses that survivors receive when disclosing an assault. Attendees will hear a first-hand account of Sivy’s case, focused on the investigative process and what sexual assault looks like from the perspective of both the survivor and the detective. They will also learn about the barriers to reporting sexual assault experienced by survivors, how to respond empathetically when someone says they were assaulted and what happens to a survivor’s brain from the stress and trauma. 

“The Start by Believing campaign is designed to teach others what to say, how to take action and the resources available when a sexual assault would occur to them or someone they know,” Director of the Survivor Advocacy Program, Kim Castor said. “At SAP, we strive to find ways to help survivors and inform others on how to empathize with them, and this campaign is spreading that knowledge on an even higher scale than we can.” 

This past April, Sivy and Det. Mathew Austin, who has worked extensively with sexual assault survivors and investigated Sivy’s case, were  awarded the Law Enforcement and Survivor Special Courage Award  at the 2018 Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center's Models of Justice (OCVJC) Awards Celebration in Columbus, Ohio. 

For more information about the national Start by Believing Campaign, visit http://www.startbybelieving.org/home.