DPSS Aims To Raise Awareness About Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and DPSS’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) is joining in several community efforts to raise awareness about sexual assault. With the ultimate goal to help prevent interpersonal violence incidents, SVU aims to educate the public, increase reporting from victims, conduct thorough investigations, and hold offenders accountable.

One of the ways SVU helps support victims is to Start by Believing. Knowing how to respond to a sexual assault is critical—a negative response can worsen the trauma, foster an environment where perpetrators face zero consequences for their crimes, and potentially harm others. We want our community to know that if they come forward with a report, it will be taken seriously and addressed compassionately.

Start by Believing is a global public awareness campaign uniquely 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 individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing. All too often, 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. This is why leadership at DPSS, as well as the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, and other criminal justice agencies in Washtenaw County support the Start by Believing campaign. Together we strive to provide a safe, caring environment where victims are empowered to step forward and take action against those who have harmed them.

Throughout the month of April, DPSS and SVU aim to help educate the public on this important campaign that serves as a foundational pillar for victim support year round.

Upcoming Events:

  • April 3 Start By Believing Day 
    • DPSS joins communities across the country and world to unify with a single voice for those who have been victims of sexual violence: We hear you, and we are here to help. Join us by further educating yourself about sexual violence by watching the campaign video, take the pledge to help end silence, and share the message to #StartByBelieving.
  • April 24Denim Day
    • DPSS encourages the U-M community to join the millions of people across the world who will wear jeans on April 24 in support of survivors. The Denim Day campaign began after a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped the person who raped her remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament  came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Denim Day was developed as a campaign to bring awareness to victim blaming and encourage community members to educate themselves and stand against the misconceptions that surround sexual violence. 


If your department or student organization wants a presentation on Start by Believing/ Responding to Sexual Assault or Empowerment Self-Defense, please complete a request form.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, we recognize that reporting can be difficult. Our SVU officers work to ensure that survivors are treated with respect, sensitivity, and understanding. You can report an incident or contact our SVU by calling 734-763-1131. If you are in immediate danger, dial 911.