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Empowering Survivors: City of Seattle Launches Seek Then Speak Initiative  

New website reduces barriers for sexual assault survivors to connect to services and initiate the reporting process 

In response to the critical need for empowering sexual assault survivors with confidential and trauma-informed reporting options, the City of Seattle is launching a localized version of the Seek Then Speak website. This innovative platform, developed by End Violence Against Women International, marks a pivotal step towards supporting survivors on their own terms.  

Seek Then Speak is an interactive website that enables survivors to obtain information about services, evaluate their options, and begin the reporting process on their own terms. Seek Then Speak is divided into two main functions: “Seek” provides crucial information about essential services following a sexual assault, and “Speak” facilitates a self-guided interview to help survivors collect details about their assault and support any decisions around reporting.  

The Seek Then Speak Process 

In “Seek”, users can learn about crime victim rights, advocacy, medical care, forensic exams, and how to report to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). It addresses practical concerns that survivors often share, and includes a section specifically for support persons, offering guidance on how to respond to survivors in a helpful and empathetic manner. 

“Speak” guides users through a comprehensive interview designed to gather key information about their sexual assault. Crafted using the principles of trauma-informed interviewing, it emphasizes ease of use and centers on the survivor’s comfort. The process is entirely at the user’s pace, ensuring they can disclose as much or as little information as they see fit, in private or with a support person present. Survivors can generate a downloadable PDF of their responses to store on their personal device, as the website does not save any user data. This empowers survivors to control if, when, and how they choose to engage with law enforcement. 

When Survivors Choose to Report to Law Enforcement 

Should a survivor choose to report their assault to SPD, they are provided instructions to email, an email account managed by SPD’s Sexual Assault Unit (SAU). When received, Seek Then Speak reports are reviewed by the SAU and a Crime Survivor Services (CSS) victim advocate from the Human Services Department. The SAU evaluates reports and if potential criminal elements are identified, a case is opened, assigned to a detective, and standard investigative procedures ensue. Whether charges are filed or not, CSS victim advocates can provide advocacy and immediate safety planning for that person and their family. If charges are filed, the victim advocate will help the survivor navigate the complex criminal justice system and inform them of their rights in the criminal process.  

Why the City is Taking this Approach  

Research indicates that more than 80% of survivors choose not to report to law enforcement, often due to the fear of disbelief and judgment from the authorities to whom they would report. Seek Then Speak was designed to mitigate these fears, providing a trauma-informed, survivor-focused reporting option. 

This initiative aligns with Mayor Bruce Harrell’s Executive Order 2022-05 addressing public calls for enhancements in the SPD approach to sexual assault cases and also reflects SPD’s commitment to providing a more survivor-centered and trauma-informed response. 

The localized Seattle homepage,, was created by Strategies 360 with support from the Seattle Police Foundation. 

What People Are Saying

“Survivors of sexually motivated crimes deserve strong supports that provide comfort and empowerment on the journey to justice and healing,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “The Seek Then Speak tool provides survivors with critical information following an assault, helps make connections to caring service providers, and supports individuals in making an informed decision on reporting to law enforcement on their own terms. I’m proud of the work of our Human Services Department, Seattle Police Department, and their partners in bringing this tool online to help us build a stronger, safer Seattle.” 

“In fostering tools like Seek Then Speak, we elevate Seattle’s commitment to responsive and accessible support services, strengthening the resiliency of our communities,” said Tanya Kim, Director of the Human Services Department. “This initiative reflects our dedication to empowering individuals during challenging times, embodying the principles that define our department’s mission.” 

“Seek Then Speak will provide valuable information on how people can seek help, support and justice.  By empowering survivors and providing resources like this one, we create a safer and more supportive environment for all,” said Seattle Police Chief, Adrian Z. Diaz. 

“Sexual assault survivors deserve options. KCSARC advocates provide support through the reporting process and beyond that empower each survivor to make decisions right for them,” said Larraine Lynch, Chief Program Officer at the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center. 

“Too often survivors are wary about seeking out help after a sexual assault. This resource allows them not only access to answers and services but also to begin the process of reporting the crime without the added stress of calling 911 and having patrol come to their home,” shared Dana Lockhart, Crime Survivor Services Manager for the Human Services Department