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‘Start By Believing Day’ aims to increase support for victims of sexual assault in Utah

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Posted at 7:12 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 21:12:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers and advocates for victims of sexual assault were on Capitol Hill Wednesday, hoping to encourage a better response to reported cases of sexual assault across the state.

The campaign designates April 6 as “Start By Believing Day”, and the goal of the state holiday is to provide better resources to the victims of sexual violence.

Experts say only 12 percent of victims report abuse, and research shows that the first person a victim confides in can make a big impact on whether or not they go to the police.

“For many victims, they might feel like coming forward in a conservative culture, a conservative family, that they will be blamed, and so that blocks them from coming forward,” Julie Valentine, an Assistant Teaching Professor at BYU, said. “…A big goal of this campaign is to actually increase reporting, we want victims to feel supported.”

Utah Rep. Angela Romero, D-District 26, asked lawmakers to allocate $1.5 million toward programs to help the victims of sexual assault. Romero and victim advocates specifically highlighted the importance of offering better education in rural schools.