SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. --
Central Coast lawyers and rape victim advocates are reeling over videos, tweets
and photos documenting an alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville,
With 286 rape crisis
interventions last year alone, San Luis Obispo Sexual Assault and Rape
Prevention (SARP) is launching a campaign to end sexual violence called "Start
The Department Of Justice says only 36% of rapes are
reported. Most go unreported for fear of shame or not being believed.
A leaked online video depicting
Ohio high school students joking about an alleged rape of a 16-year-old brought light to an incident she had no
"It's horrifying to see the
attitudes that we have in our culture," says SARP psychologist Kimberly Lonsway.
"Many people describe it as a rape culture where we go to great lengths to deny
that rape exists, to trivialize it, to minimize it's impact...even to the point
of turning it into a joke."
But with eyes now turning to
social media, photos and videos documenting the alleged rape, nobody's laughing.
"It can be used against them in
the court of law," says Santa Maria Attorney Michael Clayton."The fact is the
boys have now sealed their own fate with their own statements and those
statements can and will be used against them in the court of
Although lawyers say this online
trail can be used as evidence in the trial, psychologist say it's evidence of
something even more sinister in society.
"There's a deep wellspring of
attitudes that deny rape, that trivialize it, that turn it into a joke," says
Lonsway. "When we have that as a base, then it allows people to push it even
further to commit rape or observe a rape and not intervene."
So SARP is launching a "Start By
Believing" campaign to promote reporting of sexual violence.
"If somebody discloses they've
been sexually assaulted, you need to start by believing them," says SARP
Associate Executive Director Jesse Torrey. "And if they are responded to with
support, with validation, with 'how can I help?', with 'this wasn't your
fault'...that's the road to healing."
At San Luis Obispo's next city
council meeting, the SARP Center and the mayor will announce February 1st as
"Start By Believing" Day.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 7:07 PM EDT2013-05-21 23:07:23 GMT
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