heading 2013
In This Issue
Survivors and Volunteers Start by Believing
New Intern at Victim Services
Start by Believing
Reality Check
If More People Would Just Believe
Testify: A Survivor's Story
Reality Check
Believing the Child Victim


The promise of spring is here! Does that make us think of spring cleaning?  Instead of cleaning closets, cabinets, and drawers, I challenge all of us to "clean" our beliefs.  How many of the old beliefs linger in the corners of our minds?  The Start by Believing theme needs to replace all the victim blaming beliefs we may have learned as they were passed down from generation to generation.  Take some time today to question your beliefs and start believing victims.  I know I did and it is not easy.  But worth the effort.  My name is Nadine and when someone tells me they were raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Miriam and I am a survivor of sexual assault while attending graduate school at a prominent midwestern university.  I know
how I felt to be believed and supported following the assault.  When someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Rachel and I am a volunteer advocate for Victim Services and a Social Work major at Western Illinois University.  When someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Louise.  I am a survivor of both childhood sexual abuse by a family friend and sexual assault by a former intimate partner.  I know how it feels to not be believed both as a child when I told adults I trusted, and as an adult when I was told, "Hey you married him, he can't rape you!"  Years later, my life took a new positive turn when I told a friend about the abuse and assaults and he said, "You didn't deserve that, no one does. I'm sorry that happened."  Someone finally believed me. So when someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Allison.  I volunteered as an advocate for Victim Services and now work with children in foster care, some of whom have been removed from their family because of sexual abuse.  When someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Carol.  I am a volunteer advocate for Victim Services and worked for a similar program in the military.  When someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.

My name is Rebecca.  I am a counselor working with both adult and child survivors of sexual assault and abuse.  I see how important it is for them to be believed, for when they are not, it has a lasting impact on their healing process.  When someone tells me they have been raped or sexually assaulted, I Start by Believing.


Alicia Guzman-Riley
is a senior at Western Illinois University with a double major in Women's Studies and  Law Enforcement and Justice Administration.  She plans to continue her education and obtain a master's degree. 
Alicia has a passion for anti-violence work and appreciates the opportunity to assist survivors of domestic and sexual violence.


April 6 
Week of the Young Child
Family Fair 
McDonough Co. YMCA

April 10
Clothesline Project
Carl Sandburg/Galesburg
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

April 13
Rock Against Rape
American Legion Post 6
221 East Washington
3:00 - 11:00 pm

April 17
Hands Around the Courthouse
McDonough Co. Courthouse, Macomb

April 19-23
Clothseline Project
WIU Multicultural Center
9:00 am - 3:00 pm

April 26
Denim Day

April 27
Healthy Kids 
Warren Co. YMCA




The McDonough County State's Attorney's Office is sponsoring a poster contest for 4th graders at Macomb's Edison School for Child Abuse Prevention month. Children are encouraged to draw pictures of what makes a happy family and fun activities families can do together.  "We'll be hanging the posters around the square throughout the month of April. Prizes for the winners are being donated from local businesses and are centered around family activities," said Amy Crosby, Child Advocate for the State's Attorney's office. 

Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List
Dear VS Newsletter Subscriber,

If you have a change in email address, make sure we are updated so you can continue to receive the latest in Victim Services news.


If you no longer wish to receive the newsletter, please let us know. 

Patti Sullivan-Howd

Public Relations Manager/Newsletter Editor


Start by Believing


While visiting family in Kansas City last year, I spotted this billboard along the highway. Wow, that's a great sign, I thought. In checking out the website once I returned home, I was shocked by the message on the Start by Believing materials.  It began with the statement "My daughter died in a car crash," and the response was "Well, that's what she gets for not taking the bus."  My first thought was, "Gee, that's tough.  I hope no one who lost a child in a car accident sees this."  Then the light bulb went off in my head. 

It's not a joke and it's not meant to be hurtful to those who may have experienced this type of tragedy. The campaign uses the shock value of that interchange for a reason. It gets people's attention and, hopefully, it will spark a lot of dialogue because people respond with these types of outrageous statements to victims of sexual assault. It happens all the time and some see it as a normal response.   Why? Why would someone respond to a victim of a crime with a blaming statement?  Read more...  



  check with words r

"A 19-year-old Northbrook woman died of an apparent suicide nine days after telling University of Notre Dame police she had been sexually attacked by a football player in a dorm room..."

Notre Dame refused to publicly  

acknowledge the case...

The player, meanwhile, remained on the field. 

     As reported by the Chicago Tribune, November 21, 2010 


If More People Would Just Believe  
This year, WIRC-CAA Victim Services (VS) has joined End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) in its Start by Believing Campaign for VS Sexual Assault Awareness Month April activities. VS will be talking to many people about believing survivors of sexual assault when survivors disclose their experience. I was asked to write from my experience as an advocate, why believing is important, and the problem I encounter so often of people not believing survivors. Read More... 

  Testify 2

When I was 22, one of my best friend's brothers raped me. I was in their home, spending the weekend.   Her parents lived about halfway between where I was living and working and where my friend was attending college. I arrived first; she had to finish her shift at her part-time job before leaving for home.  

I would not be able to have a decent relationship with someone. I told myself over and over I didn't deserve one. I was ashamed of what had happened to me. I believe this is one reason I became very promiscuous. I didn't matter anymore. What happened to me didn't matter anymore.


I visited with her parents and then headed upstairs to her room to wait for her. I fell asleep and woke to one of her brother's hands over my mouth, the other around my neck. He threatened me, telling me how much worse it would be if I tried to scream for help. His parents were downstairs, still awake watching TV. I couldn't believe what was happening. When he was done, he told me to go take a shower, to clean up because I looked like crap.   He said if I tried to tell anyone, they wouldn't believe me.  Read More... 


  check with words r

Sarah Reedy testified in 2004 to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, describing how she was robbed and raped at gunpoint. The detective did not believe her
and charged her with filing a false
report. She spent FIVE days in jail. 
 Because of the detective's refusal, the serial rapist was allowed to attack other women.  Her rapist was later arrested, and he confessed to committing a total of 12 sexual assaults.

     As documented in the "Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases," September 14, 2010.

  child with bear

 Believing the Child Victim 


Imagine that you are approached by a young child, possibly a family member or a neighborhood kid. Imagine that this child discloses to you that he or she is being sexually abused by someone you know. How do you react? Do you immediately contact the police? Do you confront the accused? Or do you write it off as the over-active imagination of a child? How you respond to that disclosure will determine many things.  Read More...



WIRC-CAA Victim Services

The Victim Services Program provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties.

WIRC-CAA Victim Services
P. O. Box 157
Macomb, IL 61455
(309) 837-6622 (Domestic Violence)
(309) 836-2148 (Sexual Assault)
24-Hour Crisis Line (309) 837-5555