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Tampa Bay Police Chiefs Announce Renewed Effort To Stop Sexual Assault

Devin Rodriguez
Bradenton Police Chief Melanie Bevan announces Consent Floria, a new campaign to end rape.

  One in six women in Florida has been raped at some point in her life, and barely six in 1,000 rapists go to jail for their crimes.

The Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association declared Thursday that they are going to renew their efforts to decrease sexual assault.

Consent Florida is a new initiative to change ideas concerning rape culture among young people. Rape culture is the environment which allows sexual violence against victims to be normalized and excused in society.

Bradenton's Police Chief Melanie Bevan said the police departments across the Tampa Bay area will be share resources and receive training to help the community against concepts like victim shaming and apathy.

“Rape is not caused by too much alcohol; rape is not caused by a revealing outfit; rape is not caused by promiscuity and it’s not caused by talking back,” Bevan said. “Rape is caused by rapists.”

The campaign will begin with police officers receiving training through workshops and courses by advocacy groups and other departments. Officers will then spread the moral, ethical and legal concept of consent to public schools, colleges and community residents.

Bevan said that the new initiative changes the motto ‘No means no’ to “Yes equals consent, no equals rape. It is that simple.”

Silence has been a big problem when bringing charges against sexual assailants. Bevan says as many as 9 out of every 10 sexual assaults go unreported. In many of those cases the victim knew their assailant. Consent Florida hopes to help break that silence.

“No one wants to talk about it,” said Bevan. “Few victims can even talk about it, and it is long past due for that silence to end.”

There will be a fundraising gala to help the department gather more resources. It will be held on Sept. 10 at the Tradewinds Resort Ballroom at St. Pete Beach.

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