START BY BELIEVING: The Power of a Survivor-Centered Process

With the help of one brave student survivor, Brie Sivy, “Start by Believing” – 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 Castor 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 the often-traumatizing experience of working with the criminal justice system can, in fact, 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.

Hoping to keep the momentum going and reach an even wider audience, the Ohio University Police Department & Survivor Advocacy Program partnered with Ohio University’s University Communication and Marketing team to create a documentary to allow Brie’s story to continue being told. During the 9/19/19 presentation, Brie, Kim, and Detective Austin will present their 30-minute movie 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. You will also hear about trauma’s effect on memory and witness the impact possible when police and advocacy work together with a common goal.

Brianna Sivy, Student, Survivor Advocacy Program at Ohio University, Columbus, OH

Mathew Austin, Detective, Ohio University Police Department, Athens, OH

Kimberly Castor, LISW-S, Director, Ohio University Survivor Advocacy Program, Athens, OH




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