Washington Becomes

11th Start by Believing State! 

Earlier this month, over 200 criminal justice professionals in Washington state attended a Sexual Assault Investigations Summit, hosted by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC).  In addition to training presented by national experts, information about how to incorporate the Start by Believing philosophy into participants’ daily practices was provided. 

Beginning the Journey

The journey toward endorsing a Start by Believing philosophy began after Washington passed legislation in 2017 mandating training for “persons investigating adult sexual assault.” This legislation states that the WSCJTC:

Shall provide ongoing specialized, intensive, and integrative training for persons responsible for investigating sexual assault cases involving adult victims. The training must be based on a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach to responding to sexual assault. Among other subjects, the training must include content on the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed interviewing, counseling, and investigative techniques.

Inspiring Change

After providing training to officers on trauma-informed, victim-centered responses for several years, the WSCJTC Sexual Assault Investigations program decided to officially endorse the Start by Believing philosophy in 2022. They were motivated to adopt the philosophy after viewing this training video from the Denver Police Department.

That video resonated with team members. Those who were once skeptical or cautious about us endorsing the Start by Believing campaign said, “What we’re conveying is that the investigation has merit,” and “Not believing a truthful victim causes more harm than believing an untruthful victim.” It was clear to us that Start by Believing's evidence-based outcomes outweighed any risks we perceived in fully adopting these practices.


Jen Wallace, Program Manager – Sexual Assault Investigations

Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission

Change was also inspired by reviewing EVAWI’s Online Training Institute module on Effective Victim Interviewing

Making It Official

In August, Washington Governor Jay Inslee officially declared September 22nd as Start by Believing Day, making Washington the 11th Start by Believing State. We are very proud of this accomplishment, especially since Washington is the home of EVAWI!

Thanks to Governor Inslee for focusing attention on sexual assault, and to the WSCJTC for spearheading these Start by Believing efforts in Washington.  

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