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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler joined the Mental Health Association in Orange County, Inc. (MHA) and other community partners to recognize Start by Believing Day on Wednesday, April 5th at the County’s Emergency Services Center.
One of the featured speakers at the event was Warwick High School senior Elizabeth Verboys, 17, a survivor of child sexual abuse.
“Victims of sexual abuse need to be able to come forward and to be heard without having any concerns,” Hoovler said. “Sexual assault is incredibly traumatizing for victims and being met with doubt and skepticism only hurts them more. When we start believing, we provide a victim the support that they need, assisting them in the healing process as they pursue justice.”
Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign focused on the public response to sexual assault. A friend or family member usually is the first person a survivor confides in after an assault and each victim’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. Many times, according to Orange County Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services Darcie Miller, when a survivor confides in someone they trust, they do not feel fully supported.
As a result, they are less likely to pursue the matter with law enforcement. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 230 are reported to the police. Of those 230 reports, 46 lead to an arrest, and of those 46 arrests, nine cases are referred to prosecutors. RAINN reported that more than 75 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
“Start by Believing provides an opportunity for communities to unify with one meaningful message for survivors of sexual assault – we hear you; we believe you and we are here to help,” Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus said. “Orange County will continue to assist MHA and our community partners to help victims of sexual violence.”
Residents who need support for sexual assault, or mental illness, substance abuse, developmental disability, or information or referrals with trained professionals may dial 311, Orange County’s Crisis Call Center, 24 hours a day. The Call Center provides collaborative, professional, telephone support and outreach to anyone in Orange County in need of emotional support or crisis intervention.
For more information, contact Justin Rodriguez, Assistant to the County Executive for Communications and Media Relations at 845.291.3255 or email@example.com.