Sexual assault cases tend to spike during high profile rape allegations

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“Me too.” You’ve likely heard those words many times for over a year now, and there’s a reason. “We definitely tend to see a spike when it comes to high-profile cases,” said DC Rape Crisis Center Executive Director Indira Henard.

Henard adds,  the national movement and noteworthy allegations have helped highlight what sexual abuse and assault are on a wider scale.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline got a 201 percent increase in calls during the Kavanaugh hearing. After the Harvey Weinstein case, it got a 46 percent increase in overall calls.

Rainn‘s Victim Service program went from helping 15,000 a month to 22,000. “We’ve seen an ongoing 15 percent increase on our hotline, and an ongoing 20 percent increase in individual and group counseling requests,” Henard reported.

Becky’s Fund Executive Director, Becky Lee, said: “We’re seeing an increase in reporting for sexual assault. The EOC just said that there has been an over 50 percent increase on sexual assault lawsuit allegations this past year.”

This is a time when victims of domestic violence are taking more action. Even though they say that all too often, their stories are doubted.

“Broken bones, hospitalization – and I really still, even with proof, I still thought I wasn’t going to be believed,” said Lizette Contreras, a domestic violence survivor.

Contreras says she built the courage to take legal action after escaping an abusive relationship that lasted for a year. She adds that her ex-partner is well-known, and she feared backlash. “There wasn’t going to be any repercussions for his actions because of his privilege.”

This could stand as a classic example for why sexual abuse and violence are not always immediately reported.

“That question that we often ask: ‘Why did it take so long to come out? Why did it take so long to report?’ Not understanding that there’s so many factors,” said Lee. “Everything ranging from having to share your story again when you’ve been beaten down and told the abuse is your fault. You begin to believe it.”

As Contreras continues her legal battle, she explains what she feared most. “Either hurt to the point where police were called, or either hurt to the point where maybe I wouldn’t be here today,” she expressed.

Henard said, “We want to build people’s vocabulary around sexual violence. You know, if someone discloses to you, we want people to know they are not alone; that it is not their fault; that there is support and resources out there.”

Advocates say to prevent abuse, people need to treat allegations seriously, avoid victim blaming and understand what this kind of abuse really is. “People finally realize this is a crime. They are not alone, but also that there is help available,” Becky stated.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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