Cal Poly and several community partners unveiled a new resource for sexual assault survivors, assisting them in anonymously gathering information, exploring local services and reporting the crime when they are ready.
In Seek Then Speak, Survivors are guided through a series of questions to determine the best options to get assistance. The free program is designed to help close gaps in the current system of reporting and promote justice and healing.
“Through Seek Then Speak, survivors take control of their healing experience from the very beginning and decide what their next steps are going to be,” Cal Poly Assistant Director of Wellbeing Kara Samaniego said.
Cal Poly Safer and Title IX programs, University Police (UPD), San Luis Obispo Police, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and RISE A held a press conference on March 21 to announce the launch at the Superior Court Steps in San Luis Obispo.
UPD Chief Hughes said that he believes the new program will make survivors more comfortable with reporting sexual assault.
“We understand victims and survivors of sexual violence may not want to initially speak with [an officer], or have an officer show up to take a report, and they have many other challenges to reporting these crimes,” Hughes said. “Seek Then Speak was created to provide solutions to these challenges and improve the police response to sexual violence.”
The tool also allows users to learn about what the experience of a police investigation would be like, prior to filing a report.
The launch of Seek Then Speak countywide was made possible by a $300,000 grant to Cal Poly from the Department of Justice.
San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said that out of 100 sexual assaults, only 5 to 20 are reported to law enforcement. He said that out of those, five or six out of 100 are actually able to be prosecuted because there is enough evidence to go forward. Out of those prosecuted, zero to five are actually convicted.
“I believe that we need to shift in our country to create a safer environment for victims of crime generally, but specifically sexual assault, so that survivors know that the community cares and will be listened to in a safe environment that may or may not include prosecution at their request,” Dow said.
Seek Then Speak is available to anyone in San Luis Obispo County through visiting SeekThenSpeak.org, calling 888-865-9863 or downloading the app (Android and iOS).