(January 30, 2013) — The National Sexual Assault Hotline last year helped a record 150,139 people, or more than 411 per day, up 4% from the prior year. The increase was driven by usage of RAINN’s Online Hotline, which helped 45,042 people, up 12% from 2012. The increase is partly due to higher usage by men, who made up 10% of users in 2013.
“Our biggest challenge is keeping up with demand for the Online Hotline ,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “Thanks to our generous supporters, we were able to add hotline staff last year to keep up with the increased usage and reduce wait times. Our goal is to make sure that anyone who wants help can get it.”
RAINN’s staff and volunteers operate the Online Hotline, while RAINN runs the national telephone hotline (800-656-HOPE) in partnership with more than 1,050 local sexual assault service providers across the nation.
Despite national crime rates leveling out , the increase in demand for the Online Hotline could point to a greater awareness of sexual violence, says said Katherine Hull, RAINN’s vice president for communications. “Thanks to the collective outcry from the public in response to recent cases like Maryville and Steubenville, survivors may feel more comfortable coming forward and getting the help that they deserve,” she observed.
RAINN’s victim services staff identified several trends over the last year:
Male survivors: More than 10% of visitors to the Online Hotline were male, an increase from earlier years. Most male visitors said they were reaching out for help for the very first time. RAINN has found that male survivors  often find it easier to first tell an hotline staff member rather than a loved one, said Hull.
Loved ones: Last year saw in increase in the number of friends and family members visiting the Online Hotline to find a way to support the survivor  in his or her life. Increasingly, loved ones want to gain a deep understanding of the trauma the survivor has experienced, so they can provide better support to a survivor.
Self-harm: There has been a rise in the number of survivors coming to the hotline to discuss self-harm , such as cutting. Self-harm is common in the aftermath of an assault, often due to feelings of depression or lack of control. A plurality of Online Hotline users is under age 24, which is the age group most likely to attempt self-harm.
The Online Hotline is a safe place for survivors to seek support, day or night. The anonymity of users is well protected: RAINN does not capture the IP address of the user or record transcripts of sessions. “The confidential nature of the Online Hotline creates an environment in which survivors feel more comfortable discussing their experience,” noted Hull.
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org .