In 2022, the Kansas City Police Department received a total of 584 reports of sex crimes. MOCSA supported over 1,335 survivors of sexual violence through advocacy services, 2,958 callers on the 24-hour crisis line, and 1,046 survivors through counseling services. Saint Luke’s Health Systems provided sexual assault forensic exams to 251 survivors.
“I’m really emotional looking at the numbers,” Missouri Councilwoman Ryana Parks-Shaw said. “Someone really close to me is a survivor and when I saw the numbers, it hit me.”
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly signed the proclamation declaring April 2023 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month at the Capitol in Topeka on March 31, 2023. Debbie Frederiksen, MOCSA Director of Communication attended.
“It’s really important for us to come together and remember that one of the most important things we can do when someone in our life tells us that they’ve experienced sexual violence is not only to believe them, but to say those words out loud,” Victoria Pickering, MOCSA Director of Advocacy, said.
On April 3, 2023, Jackson County Legislators Jalen Anderson, Charlie Franklin, Jeanie Lauer, Manuel Abarca IV, and Sean E. Smith introduced, and the Legislature passed, Resolution 21223 declaring April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the first Wednesday of April each year as Start by Believing Day.
Start by Believing aims to improve personal and professional reactions when someone confides that they were abused or sexually assaulted. A negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face no consequences for their crimes.
“Winifred Jamieson, Legislative Aide, and I both know multiple people who have benefited from services through MOCSA,” Anderson said. “Some who may not be alive today without their help.”
On April 6, 2023, Kansas City Mayor Quinton D. Lucas declared April to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the first Wednesday of April each year to be Start by Believing Day.
“You all do some of the most impactful, some of the most heartfelt and some of the most vital and dedicated work in our city,” Mayor Lucas said.
Pickering encouraged the room to say the words I believe you aloud.
“Those words should go without saying,” Pickering said, “but it’s so important that we say them out loud and we back them up with action and ongoing support for survivors.”