Health & Wellness

USU Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2024, Asks Community to 'Start by Believing'

Utah State University is kicking off Sexual Assault Awareness Month with its seventh annual Start by Believing Day.

On Wednesday, April 3, USU is asking that students, staff, faculty and other community members take the pledge to Start by Believing and support survivors when they disclose an experience of sexual assault.

“Starting by believing is a crucial first step to reducing the harm caused to survivors in the face of one of the most traumatic experiences a person can have,” said Shaun Anderson, victim advocate and outreach coordinator for the Sexual Assault & Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) Office. “When we start by believing, we help build a society that is safer for survivors.”

According to the 2023 Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Misconduct, the top reasons students did not tell anyone about their experience with nonconsensual sexual penetration or nonconsensual sexual touching included shame, fear, a desire for privacy and not thinking their experience was serious enough.

Cameron Moellendorf, a graduating senior and intern in the Inclusion Center, highlighted the importance of this campaign for students.

“Start by Believing has created safer spaces and procedures for students to talk about their experiences,” Moellendorf said. “Whether on a personal/peer level or through the reporting process, it eliminates the additional burden on students to self-advocate as they navigate healing.”

The Start by Believing campaign focuses on shifting the response from blame to support when survivors disclose incidents of sexual violence, helping to create a culture where survivors feel safe to come forward and receive the support they need to heal.

Moellendorf said that USU’s support of the campaign sends an important message to survivors — that their community cares about them.

“I would like to believe that everyone wants to care for others, and that is why we fight for survivors and fight to end violence,” Moellendorf said. “This campaign is simply trying to share that sentiment, that we care, and that doing so is powerful.”

Shaun Anderson encourages anyone who would like to receive help or get involved to come by the SAAVI office or to attend Take Back the Night — an event where survivors of sexual assault are given a mic and the opportunity to share their story to a supportive crowd. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. April 10 outside the Historic Courthouse, 199 N. Main Street, in Logan.

“SAAVI is a confidential resource for survivors of all interpersonal violence, including sexual assault,” he said. “We like to think of ourselves as your Siri: Tell us what justice and healing look like to you, and we'll do everything we can to help you reach that destination, including connecting you with necessary resources, assisting you in navigating the reporting process and providing emotional support and skill building.”

Since USU launched Start by Believing, as well as efforts informing students about how to respond to disclosures of sexual assault, rates of those who said they told a roommate or a close friend about their experience increased by nearly 20%, and the percentage of those who said they told no one about their assault decreased from 37.8% to 17%.

Moellendorf hopes that everyone will take this opportunity to pledge their support.

“While it is such a simple act, it has powerful effects when taken on by large groups of people and helps reinvent our spaces on campus for the better,” Moellendorf said.

For more information and to take the pledge to Start by Believing, visit


Shaun Anderson
Victim Advocate and Outreach Coordinator
Sexual Assault & Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) Office


Inclusive Excellence 259stories Sexual Misconduct Prevention 77stories

Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.

Next Story in Health & Wellness

See Also