The City of Cambridge recommits to being a Start by Believing Community

Led by the Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team, the City of Cambridge reaffirms its commitment to being a Start by Believing community. Start by Believing is an international public awareness campaign launched in 2011 by Ending Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)a professional training organization that helps law enforcement and allied professionals improve their response to sexual assault and other gender-based crimes such as human trafficking and intimate partner violence.

Members of the Cambridge community are invited to join the Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and Cambridge City Council, City Manager Louis DePasquale and City Manager city, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), and other supporters to start believing. engagement, proclamation reading, lecture series and photo opportunity on Wednesday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m., on the steps of Cambridge City Hall, 795 Massachusetts Avenue.

Many victims of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse do not disclose their experience for fear of not being believed, blaming themselves, shame, and worrying about the stigma of being labeled as victims. The Start by Believing campaign is designed to help change these perceptions. Knowing how to respond to a survivor when they come forward is critical, as a negative response can deepen the trauma and foster an environment of no accountability for these crimes. The Start by Believing campaign helps break this cycle of silence by improving personal and professional responses. The timing of this campaign is crucial after more than two years of isolation and upheaval related to COVID-19. Survivors suffered in unique ways during this time and in many cases had to put their healing process on hold in order to focus on more immediate needs, such as food, shelter and job security.

Start by Believing is a community effort. To be effective, it requires the collaboration and commitment of local governments, law enforcement agencies, community organizations and community members themselves. When a city starts believing, survivors receive trauma-informed feedback, support, and resources, all of which allow them to begin to heal after an assault.

“As the Start by Believing community, we believe it is vitally important as a city to reaffirm our commitment to survivors of sexual assault and to fostering the safest and most supportive environment for all. survivor,” Cambridge said. Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “We want all survivors to feel encouraged to step forward and discover how we are a city dedicated to transforming personal and professional responses to sexual assault. This commitment begins with the dedicated members and range of resources within the Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team.

BARCC Acting Executive Director Duane de Four said, “To effectively support each survivor, we must use an inclusive approach that recognizes their multiple intersecting identities, including race, gender, ability, sexual orientation and immigration status. We are encouraged that the city and its many constituents, as well as the Cambridge Police Service, are focusing on these needs in their responses to sexual and gender-based violence. Given its aim to better support every survivor in the city of Cambridge, we are proud to be a partner of the Start by Believing campaign.

“Every sexual assault patient deserves the best possible care, and that starts with being heard,” said Joan Meunier-Sham, director of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program. “Patients who arrive at the hospital with chest pain or stroke symptoms are immediately believed and assured that they will receive the care they need. Sexual assault patients deserve the same level of care.

The Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team provides networking opportunities with partners, reviews best practices and identifies service gaps to create a seamless process for survivors as they navigate the criminal justice system. Members of the Cambridge Sexual Assault Response Team include Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge Emergency Communications, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Transition House, the City of Cambridge Domestic and Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, Cambridge Health Alliance, Mass Alliance of Portuguese Speakers, Mass Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program, Victim Rights Law Center, De Novo Center for Justice & Healing, Saheli, Disabled Persons Protection Commission Sexual Assault Response team and others. This collaboration greatly helps the organizations involved better understand each other’s capabilities, policies and procedures.

For more information on the Start by Believing campaign, please visit

Start with Believing Flier (PDF link)

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