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Reported rapes are on the rise for the second year in a row.
Reports to the Rape Crisis Center in Clark County increased by 25 percent from 2016 to 2017, and the numbers this year compared to last year have grown as well.
“We’re not seeing evidence that this is a result of more assaults happening. We really do believe that it is more people feeling comfortable speaking out,” Daniele Dreitzer, the executive director of the Rape Crisis Center, told KNPR's State of Nevada.
Dreitzer said more people are coming forward with their own experience or are calling to ask how to help family and friends. She attributes the rise in calls to people breaking their silence through the Me Too movement and the change in the national conversation about sexual violence.
“More people are recognizing I think that in some cases may be an experience they had that they didn’t necessarily identify as being sexual violence maybe was,” she said.
Dreitzer said they help just as many people who were assaulted 30 years ago as people who were assaulted 30 hours ago.
Besides people calling the hotline for help, there is also an increase in the number of people attending support groups organized by the center. Dreitzer said while the Me Too movement has empowered survivors to speak out it has also had a triggering effect on survivors who feel they can't read a magazine or turn on the TV without seeing a something about sexual violence.
While the number of calls has increased, Dreitzer said it is believed that sexual violence is still underreported. She said survivors often don't report what happened right away and others may not be sure what happened if they were drugged or if they had too much to drink.
The rise in calls is so drastic, the Rape Crisis Center is asking for more volunteers.
Dreitzer said the training for volunteers is intense. It is 50 hours and is spread out over five weeks.
The center requires a six month, four hour per week commitment. But Dreitzer admits that "because of the nature of the work, it's not something we expect people to do forever."
Because there is a high turnover, the center is always in need of people to help out.
She also said male volunteers are accepted, which is a question they get often.
It seems almost every day another high profile person is accused of sexual harassment or assault. Just this week, the head of CBS was let go after a number of women accused him of inappropriate behavior.
Dreitzer says we really can't expect to see fewer reports of assault because of the Me Too movement.
“I’m not sure that’s an expectation we can have of the Me Too Movement because that is really about giving survivors a voice. That’s very different from prevention,” she said.
She said preventing sexual assault is really about changing the culture, rethinking how we discuss consent, and how we educate children about sex and sexuality.
24-hour hotline: 702-366-1640
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
Daniele Dreitzer, executive director, The Rape Crisis Center
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