SALT LAKE CITY — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and advocates working to stop sexual violence and support victims gathered at Utah's State Capitol on April 7 to promote the "Start by Believing" pledge.
Start by Believing Day, the first Wednesday in April, marks a date that advocates hope will unite communities to protect and support victims of sexual violence and work together to stop sexual assault.
“It is important for (the public) to know that the way we respond to survivors after an assault found has profound a long lasting and long lasting impacts on their path to healing and justice,” said Sonya Martinez-Ortiz, Executive Director of the Rape Recovery Center.
Sexual assault numbers are grim: Statistics say that one in six women and one in 25 men will experience rape or attempted rate in their lifetime, and one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence.
“We need to have more honest conversations about consent and what consent is, and until we have honest conversations and until we as a society take ownership, we’ll still see sexual assault and intimate partner violence occurred in our state,” says Utah State Representative Angela Romero (D--District 26).
Education and prevention effort are also key, including lessons on consent in schools.
“Prevention efforts including education in schools as early as possible around issues of consent and harassment is critical prevention works,” said Liliana Olvera-Arbon, Executive Director of Utah Coalition against Sexual Assault.