Don’t Stop Believing: Promoting A Survivor-Centered Approach and the Power of Collaboration

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 6, 2021

Mathew Austin
Mathew Austin
Crime Scene Unit, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Former Detective, Ohio University Police Dept.
Kimberly Rousem
Kimberly Rouse, LISW-S
Director, Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program
Brianna Sivy
Brianna Sivy
Survivor, Former Student, Ohio University

Thanks to the brave work of one student survivor, Brie Sivy, the Start by Believing movement – first brought to campus by the Ohio University Police Department (OUPD) and the Survivor Advocacy Program (SAP) – is going strong at Ohio University. Brie has been publicly speaking and sharing her story alongside Detective Mathew Austin of OUPD and Kim Rouse of SAP since 2018. Their first presentation, to over 200 campus and community members, spearheaded Ohio University’s Start by Believing campaign and highlighted how often-traumatizing experience of working with the criminal justice system can be empowering for survivors if a survivor-focused approach and interdisciplinary team-model are used. A well-received second presentation followed the next school year and the requests to repeat the talk came pouring in. To keep the momentum going, the presenters partnered with Ohio University’s University Communication and Marketing team to create a documentary that shares their story. In this presentation, participants will view the 30-minute documentary that uses Brie’s journey from victim, to survivor, to aspiring social worker to illustrate how OUPD works to empower survivors throughout their sexual assault investigations. Participants will learn about trauma’s impact on memory and how police can empower survivors throughout the sexual assault investigation. They will witness the positive impact when police and advocacy work together. Following the film, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from Brie, Detective Austin, and Kim in a discussion of ongoing efforts to continue the Start by Believing conversation, including experiences on building a culture of believing that improves responses that survivors receive when disclosing. Presenters will share practices they believe will help foster similar projects that champion the survivor centered approach and elevate survivor voices.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Recognize the impact that a multidisciplinary approach can have for sexual assault survivors.
  • Describe practices for law enforcement that empowers survivors and builds rapport.
  • Strategize techniques to bring a Start by Believing campaign to their community.

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