April 3, 2019 is the day the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office wants people to Start by Believing.

That’s the name of a pledge drive by the DA’s Special Victims Unit and Victims Assistance Program. It is a public awareness campaign designed to end the cycle of silence and change the way people respond to sexual assault.

“It was first launched during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2011,” says LaShana Harris, Domestic Violence Investigator with the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office. “Since then, thousands of people across the country have made their own personal commitment. Start by Believing Day provides an opportunity for communities across the country, and around the world, to unify with a single voice for those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

“As part of this pledge drive, we will collect pledges from community members, service providers and criminal justice providers,” Harris said. People who pledge will be asked to make a personal commitment to believe when someone tells you about their sexual assault, to help a survivor on the road to justice and healing and to help end the cycle of silence.

At 10 a.m. on April 3, 2019, Harris and other SVU staffers will speak to Huntington High School Law Magnet Program students, informing them of the importance of believing victims of sexual assault. Also on April 3, the DA’s office will urge people to use social media to pledge believing by using the hashtags #CaddoDA #StartByBelieving.

At 6 p.m. on April 11, 2019, the DA’s SVU team will staff a table at Centenary College’s Student Union for its Carry the Weight candlelight walk/vigil sponsored by Project Celebration for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

And at 6 p.m. on April 12, 2019, the team will staff a table at LSU-Shreveport, behind its Health and Physical Education building, for the 2nd Annual “Shine the Light” on Sexual Assault Glow Run sponsored by Project Celebration in connection with Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

People who want to sign on with Start By Believing or assist it, should call LaShana Harris at lharris@caddoda.com or by calling (318) 226-6200, ext. 3067. People can also visit the website https://www.startbybelieving.org.