As Virus Restrictions Eased, Sexual Assault Survivors Accessed Help in Record Numbers

Washington, D.C. – As states have eased restrictions over the last 60 days, a record number of people have sought services from RAINN. A total of 60,437 people received help from RAINN’s victim service programs in May and June, up 18 percent from the same period last year, and the highest number in RAINN’s 26-year history. RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

“As states began lifting stay-at-home orders and some survivors finally had the privacy to seek out support, RAINN experienced a dramatic spike in people accessing help from the National Sexual Assault Hotline and our other victim service programs,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN. “In May and June, half of visitors to our online hotline, which sees some of the most urgent cases, were minors.”

“We expect the need for support will remain strong as the pandemic continues to disrupt daily life. Since the crisis hit, we’ve hired 33 new support specialists for the National Sexual Assault Hotline and trained 55 new hotline volunteers to supplement our staff. They’ve done an extraordinary job in scaling up to help more survivors and their loved ones during these stressful and uncertain times,” said Berkowitz.

As states begin to re-implement some restrictions due to increasing numbers of virus cases and as schools plan for a fall semester that may include virtual learning, RAINN is urging officials to include mechanisms to protect children and ensure that they can seek help if they are experiencing sexual abuse.

“As we saw throughout the early weeks of the pandemic, many children lost access to trusted adults, like teachers and parents of friends, who are typically the first people to spot and report signs of abuse,” Berkowitz said. “As we expected, when the stay-at-home orders began to lift, we saw a surge in people seeking help. Now that we’re starting to move back toward more restrictions, we must ensure that kids know how to get the help they need and deserve. We urge states and school districts to develop ways now for children to contact teachers and hotlines safely and securely through online learning platforms and other means.”

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