LIMA — People sheltered at home in 2020 to try to feel safe in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, more people in the region found themselves sexually assaulted than in 2019, with a 20% increase in the number of sexual violence survivors served by Crime Victim Services, said Ryn Farmer, director of Day One of Crime Victim Services.
“There were a lot of families together in their home, so we saw some increases in people being assaulted by family members or close friends who were a part of their COVID bubble,” Farmer said.
That includes more assaults on children, Farmer said. Those increased numbers are despite numbers of reports falling in March, April, May and June, early in the pandemic.
That’s a grim reality to consider as the region marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. It’s something to consider while looking at the Umbrella Project display at the Lima Mall, where survivors and their advocates painted umbrellas with messages to bring awareness and hope or to find tables with information about the resources available.
According to Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the statistics are startling: Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. An estimated one in four girls and one in six boys are the victims of an attempted sexual assault by the time they’re adults. In college, one in five women and one in 14 men are subjected to unwanted sexual assault. Among adults, one in six women and one in 33 men have been the victim. An estimated 90 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported to authorities.
“The problem is everyone’s business,” Lima Mayor David Berger said, reading from a proclamation marking Sexual Assault Awareness Month. “Let us end the silence and be reminded every day that we all have a chance to generate a revolution for the future of our community by bringing an end to sexual violence.”
Farmer said victims who need help can call a 24-hour hotline, 877-867-7273, or visit CrimeVictimServices.org online. They can also visit the office at 330 N. Elizabeth St., Lima. The offices and local hospitals are safe and open. With adults, they won’t report your incident to police unless you’re ready.
“We’ll walk alongside them every step of the way, no matter what’s happened to them, no matter how long ago it happened,” Farmer said. “We work with them to figure out what types of solution and advocacy they need to best heal through the trauma of their situation.”
The organization will also mark “Denim Day” on April 28. It calls for people to wear denim as part of an international protest about a 1999 rape conviction. The Italian Supreme Court reversed the conviction “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex,” according to DenimDayInfo.org.
People are asked to tag their photos with the hashtags #SAAM2021 #CVSUmbrellaProject and share them on Crime Victim Services’ social media pages.