Provincial campaign shows survivors coming forward
Sexual assault survivors are being taken seriously when they confide in others, organizers behind Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign announced Monday.
Reporting of sexual assault has increased 20 per cent in Calgary and 13 per cent in Edmonton since the four-year campaign launched two years ago, according to the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS).
The AASAS also reported a 53 per cent jump in new counselling clients compared to before the campaign. The organization found Albertans are 12 times more likely to believe someone who confides to them about a sexual assault.
“The fear (of not being believed) is fading,” said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of AASAS. “When we see an increase in reporting, we know we’re doing a better job helping survivors feel safe to tell.”
This year, for the first time, campaign posters will reflect a person with a disability to make the point that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault (different ages, races, sexual orientations and genders are already represented in the campaign).
“That’s why this campaign is vitally important, it provides a voice for everyone,” said Sheila Serup, who spoke on behalf of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Person’s with Disabilities.
She said only an estimated 20 per cent of sexual abuse cases involving disabled people are reported to authorities.
A new 30-second PSA for television shows what a compassionate response from friends and family looks like when someone tells them about a sexual assault.
Portable ‘graffiti walls’ have also been installed on 28 postsecondary campuses in Alberta for students to write their own messages of support to survivors.
The fear of not being believed is fading. Deb Tomlinson, CEO of AASAS Carrie Grant with St. Mary’s University in Calgary writes a message of support on an #IBelieveYou ‘graffiti wall’ at the campaign’s yearly launch on Monday.