IN Rape crisis center opens to reduce assault cases, heighten attention

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in eight out of ten rape cases, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them. (Adobe Stock)

The Me Too movement prompted sexual abuse victims to come forward with their allegations of rape and harassment. Yet, the increase in these occurrences both nationally and statewide show repeated incidents.

Sexual violence is a nonconsensual act, either through physical or verbal behavior.

The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking is an advocacy, training and technical assistance resource for people who have faced sexual violence.

Coalition President and CEO Beth White explained the state's most vulnerable targets are often silent.

"We are worse for high school girls who experienced sexual violence while in high school, we are worse for the general population as well," said White. "So, when someone comes forward to report that this has happened to them, we always say a number of things that are important. Number one, we start by believing that people don't generally make false allegations about this problem."

An Indiana University report shows females in 9th-12th grades in Indiana schools have the second highest rate in the nation of forced sexual intercourse.

This month, the organization will open the state's sixteenth rape crisis center, Hope's Voice will serve Davies and Knox counties in southeastern Indiana.

The centers are commonly co-located with a domestic violence shelter, or another social service organization.

Researchers say sexual assault survivors should understand the perpetrator seeks to take away power and control - and most survivors do not file a police report or tell a friend, family member, or teacher out of embarrassment or shame.

White pointed out the coalition emphasizes the importance of regaining the control that has been taken away, and she works to encourage communities to talk about the issue and seek solutions, which are often multifaceted.

"Indiana has a problem," said White, "and we want people to know there is help, there is hope and there is healing that can occur when people do come forward if they feel that they can."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show survivors are more prone to smoke, abuse alcohol and drugs and engage in risky sexual activity after their experience.

The assault can also impact a survivor's ability to work, attend school or maintain personal relationships.


Terri Dee, Anchor/Producer

Monday, April 22, 2024