Orange County encourages authorities to support sexual assault survivors with Start by Believing Day
A campaign in Orange County is calling for authorities to prioritize sexual assault survivors and help them get justice and support.
High school senior Elizabeth Verboys says when she first told a Warwick police detective about being sexually assaulted years ago, the detective took the case seriously right away. She hopes that encourages other survivors to report their assaults.
"Survivors going into the station knowing that they're going to be believed and supported is motivating them to go in, because they feel more comfort...going in knowing that their story will be believed,” Verboys says.
Verboys was at the Orange County Emergency Services Center Wednesday with the district attorney and leaders from Orange County's Mental Health Association to recognize Start by Believing Day.
It’s a campaign to get police and prosecutors to believe survivors' claims and prioritize their cases.
Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler asks survivors to keep hope and keep reporting even though survivors don't always get justice.
"Sometimes we're stuck with the fact that there isn't enough evidence to proceed, or the court proceeding does not end the way we want. That doesn't mean it didn't happen, the public needs to understand that,” he says.
Verboys says although her case never led to a conviction, she keeps up with her advocacy. She recently wrote a book to help young people understand sexual assault and she's sending more sexual assault survivor care packages to more police departments.
"I do want to expand into Rockland County and get all the packages that I can into as many police stations as possible,” she says.
The Mental Health Association says since it started the campaign in 2020, the number of survivors coming to them and seeking support has doubled.