Alberta's #IBelieveYou campaign Stands with Survivors of Sexual Assault

CALGARY, ALBERTA and EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Aug. 31, 2015) -

Note to editors: There is a photo and a video associated with this press release.

An unprecedented public awareness and prevention campaign aimed at educating the public on how to better respond to survivors of sexual assault launched today province-wide. Led by the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), the campaign is supported by twenty-three post-secondary institutions, dozens of community agencies and six government ministries. Funded by the Government of Alberta, the campaign will run through September and October.

"The #IBelieveYou campaign is taking a unique and powerful approach to stopping sexual assault by educating first responders-often friends and family-who are crucial in helping survivors feel safe to come forward," said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of AASAS. "Ninety-seven percent of sexual assaults go unreported. Educating responders is a form of prevention because survivors who get a positive response are much more likely to get help and seek justice."

However, province-wide polling shows that only 15% of Albertans "strongly agree" that they would know what to say if someone disclosed a sexual assault. The goal of the campaign is to improve those statistics. "By educating the public about the power of three simple words-I believe you-we can dramatically improve outcomes for survivors and help stop sexual assault," Tomlinson added.

Built around the themes of relationship, loyalty, and healing, the campaign includes radio and television PSA advertising, posters, digital platforms, and social engagement. The campaign applies social change theory by modeling positive behavior-offering relatable and repeatable scenarios of fathers, mothers, and friends standing beside survivors. The content was created to put the viewer inside a critical moment in a sexual assault survivor's life.

Post-campaign research will be conducted to measure impact. Media Partners include, Bell Media, Shaw Media, Newad and SOS Safety Magazine. The Government of Alberta will support the campaign through the Ministries of Human Services, Health, Justice, Status of Women, Education, and Innovation & Advanced Education.

"Our government stands with survivors of sexual assault," said The Honourable Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services. "If you have been affected by sexual violence, I believe you. I encourage all Albertans to join this important campaign. Spread the message to others by saying I believe you. Together, we will help heal and stop sexual assault - we will create safe communities for all."

Post-secondary institutions in Alberta are supporting the campaign with on-campus initiatives throughout the fall, reflecting their shared concern for the issue. Dr. David Docherty, President of Mount Royal University, spoke on behalf of post-secondary participants. "The #IBelieveYou campaign is one important step among many to foster safe and healthy environments for everyone," Docherty said as he declared MRU an "I believe you" campus. "We invite other organizations to join us in educating people on how to respond to sexual assault survivors."

Also declaring MacEwan University an "I Believe You" campus, President David Atkinson stated: "Equipping friends, family members, and co-workers with three simple words, "I believe you," highlights the big impact of small actions. The simplicity of the statement reminds us how easy it is for each of us to contribute to creating a culture of respect, dignity, and equality."

AASAS is an umbrella organization for members engaged in various forms of service delivery throughout Alberta. AASAS provides leadership coordination, and a unified voice on issues of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Rather than delivering front‐line services, AASAS is an intermediary focused on improving the effectiveness of the sexual violence sector and facilitating its further development.

Suggested Tweets:

• @ASSASmembership is helping you understand the powerful role you can play in the life of a sexual assault survivor. #IBelieveYou

• The three most powerful words you can say to a sexual assault survivor are #IBelieveYou. Learn more at

• Join Thunderclap, and on September 30 we will collectively send our #IBelieveYou message out to sexual assault survivors, expanding our reach across the world.

Social links:






Campaign Background

Why Now: According to 2009 data, in Canada there are an estimated twenty-four sexual assaults a year for every thousand people. That's over 800,000 incidents annually. Sexual assault can have long term effects on a person's life, including issues related to mental and physical health, education, income, and work. The combined personal and social costs are in the billions of dollars.

Province-Wide Polling: Earlier this year, we worked with Leger Research to conduct focus groups, and a province-wide quantitative study of 1,001 Albertans 18 years or older. We asked two questions: If someone told you s/he had been sexually assaulted would you know what to say? And, What would you say?

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Albertans at least somewhat agreed that they would know what to say if someone told them that he/she had been sexually assaulted.
  • However, only 15% of Albertans 'strongly agreed' that they would know what to say if someone told them that they had been sexually assaulted.
  • Females aged 55 years and older, and those who are divorced, separated or widowed were significantly more likely to agree.
  • Of those who would know what to say, the majority would respond by giving advice (go to police/get medical help/get counseling) and asking questions (tell me what happened). Twenty-one percent of responses included empathetic language (I'm sorry/it's not your fault) and one per cent included the phrase "I believe you"-the words survivors most need to hear.
  • We will survey again at the end of the campaign to see how far we have moved the bar. We'll also measure the number of survivors who come forward for help.

Target: The majority of victims are young women in their teens and twenties and they're most likely to reach out to a friend or family member (usually a woman). Our campaign is skewed toward women, but male versions of the creative have also been developed reflecting the fact that this crime affects all genders, sexual orientations, and ages.

Thunderclap: Throughout the campaign, supporters can donate their social platforms by signing up on Thunderclap-an online platform that helps people rally together to spread a message. Join Thunderclap, and on September 30 we will collectively send our #IBelieveYou message out to sexual assault survivors, expanding our reach across the world.

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Contact Information:

Joni Avram
Cause & Effect Marketing, for AASAS

I believed you when you said you'd always be my little girl