April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in order to make a difference in our community, House of Hope Family Violence Program has made the pledge and joined the “Start by Believing” campaign, and we hope you will join as well. This global public awareness campaign is dedicated to transforming the way individuals respond to sexual assault, with the desire to see the cycle of silence among sexual assault survivors come to an end. 

Sexual assault crimes remain underreported, but there is hope that if we can change our reactions to a survivor when they report their assault, more of these crimes will be reported. It is common for individuals who have been sexually assaulted to reach out and confide in a friend or family member, and knowing how to respond is critical; with just three simple words, “I believe you,” we can make a great difference in the lives of survivors.

At Citizen Potawatomi Nation, there have already been numerous individuals who have joined us in taking the pledge to Start by Believing. We had the chance to share this campaign with our FireLodge RK7 Tribal Youth Program, and it was amazing to see so many students make the pledge as well.

According to the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, Native Americans currently have the greatest risk of sexual violence, but imagine the impact that could be made in our community if everyone would make this personal pledge that means we will believe our children, siblings, friends, teammates, classmates or coworkers if they come to us revealing they have been sexually assaulted.

If you would like more information on the Start by Believing campaign or if you would like to make the pledge yourself, you can visit www.startbybelieving.org. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please reach out and give us a call at House of Hope at (405) 275-3176 or visit us online at www.facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.