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‘I believe you’ campaign means more Albertans know how to respond to sexual assault

WATCH ABOVE: The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services is hoping the “I Believe You” campaign will make victims more comfortable about coming forward to tell their story.

The province-wide #IBelieveYou campaign, that educates people about how to respond to survivors who disclose sexual assault, has had a real impact, a poll revealed Monday.

READ MORE: ‘I believe you’ campaign aimed at Alberta sex assault survivors 

It was launched in 2015 and will continue through to 2019.

The Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS) published the results of a poll by Leger Marketing that looks at the effectiveness of the campaign.

  • 1,000 Albertans were polled
  • 65 per cent agree they would know what to say to someone who disclosed a sexual assault
    • Of those, 66 per cent would give a positive response (ie: “I’m sorry that happened,” “it’s not your fault,” “you’re not alone”), up from just 21 per cent pre-campaign
    • Of those, 12 per cent would use the phrase “I believe you” specifically (up from one per cent pre-campaign)
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“These results show that our campaign messages continue to have traction,” AASAS CEO Deb Tomlinson said.

“As a community, Alberta is embracing believing as a first step, which sends three messages: To survivors, that it’s safe to tell. To perpetrators, that they are less likely to get away with a crime. And to the general public, that our communities are becoming safer and healthier for everyone.”

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This year, the campaign ran from mid-September to the end of October and partnered with 23 post-secondary schools, six government agencies, dozens of community agencies and three national media partners, including Corus Entertainment Inc, the parent company of Global News.

The campaign also encourages sexual assault victims to share their experiences with family, friends, counsellors and police.

Advocates want people to flood social media with pictures and videos of support for survivors by using the hashtag #IBelieveYou.

Danielle Aubry, from the Calgary Communities Against Sexual Assault, says the program is aimed at sending a collective message of support to survivors of sexual assault. She says sexual assault survivors who get a compassionate response when they tell are more likely to get help and seek justice.

READ MORE: Why don’t victims or bystanders report sexual assault?

Advocates say 97 per cent of sexual assaults are never reported.

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Alberta’s premier added her voice to the #IBelieveYou campaign last week, releasing a special video message to abuse survivors.

“Only one in 10 survivors report sexual assault to police,” Rachel Notley said. “They fear being blamed for the assault. They don’t feel safe telling others. Let’s change that. We believe you.”

Tomlinson said Albertans should appreciate the progress made so far.

“As we celebrate how far we’ve come and look forward to the next several years of this campaign, we are grateful for the community partners who have rallied around this important message – from political leaders to university presidents, students and not-for-profit leaders,” she said.

“Alberta is leading this important conversation, and we should collectively be proud of these results.”

#IBelieveYou infographic
#IBelieveYou infographic Courtesy: AASAS