Officers take Start By Believing pledge

Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-06 19:17:32-04

To approach law enforcement about sexual abuse takes guts.

However, the fear of community backlash or doubt from police officials can dissuade victims from coming forward.

At a conference held in Caldwell, law enforcement was urged by Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue to take a pledge that is sweeping across the country.

Start By Believing is a campaign to end prejudice and doubt toward victims by both law enforcement and health officials.

For Stephanie Johnson who spoke at the event, the pledge is critical to prevent abuse for victims in the future.
Johnson was sexually abused the first time when she was eleven.

“After I went to bed, my friend’s dad came in and sexually assaulted me,” she said.

Many years later, a boyfriend repeated the cycle of abuse.

When she told officers what had happened, she was able to break the pattern of abuse because someone believed here.

"Today, I'm a survivor and it all started when they believed me," Johnson said.

Sheriff Donahue explained that doubt can result in predators striking again and again.

“One failed response to believing a potential victim could create an additional five victims," Sheriff Donahue said.

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