Sexual assault is a pervasive problem in the United States. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately one person experiences sexual assault every 73 seconds. One child experiences sexual assault every nine minutes — and only 5 out of every 1,000 sexual assault perpetrators go to jail for their crimes.
Although we are in the middle of a global pandemic, sexual assaults are not slowing down. Experts believe the stress and isolation of COVID-19 may be contributing to an increase in sexual assaults, and closed-down agencies and case backlogs are preventing survivors from seeking help.
Sexual Assault Reports Are Increasing During COVID-19
In addition to providing valuable data and education on sexual assault, RAINN also operates the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline. This 24-hour service connects people who are experiencing sexual assault with local sexual assault service providers, allowing survivors to seek the help they need.
Most areas of the United States were subject to shelter-in-place orders in late March. Because of the nature of quarantine, sexual assaults involving children and intimate partners are increasing in severity and frequency. Data from RAINN’s Hotline supports these claims.
According to RAINN’s vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper, the organization saw a 22% increase in calls from minors experiencing sexual assault by the end of March. In addition, half of all incoming calls RAINN received were from minors. 67% of the young people who contacted RAINN stated the perpetrator of their abuse was a family member, and 79% of children stated they were currently living with the perpetrator.
RAINN’s president, Scott Berkowitz, reported similar trends in the organization’s overall statistics. While the Hotline saw a steady stream of calls, more than 30% of the calls they received during the month of April mentioned COVID-19 and how the pandemic was exacerbating their abuse.
What Resources Are Available to Survivors During the Pandemic?
If you are in quarantine with a person who is sexually abusing you, you are not alone. Many remote resources are available for survivors to seek help during this tumultuous time.
- The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline connects you with sexual assault service providers in your area. The Hotline operates 24/7 with trained advocates on the line to guide you through this difficult time. You can call the Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).
- RAINN also operates an online chat where you can speak to a victim’s advocate. The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline provides confidential crisis support if you cannot safely make a telephone call.
- For cases involving domestic violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers remote resources for survivors. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233.
- Darkness to Light is an organization that provides resources to child victims of sexual abuse, as well as adult victims. You can call the Darkness to Light Helpline at (866) 367-5444.
The nature of the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating this violence for many people across the United States. If you are experiencing sexual abuse during COVID-19, help is available. Call 911 if you are in immediate danger, or use one of the confidential hotlines to seek 24/7 support. If you wish to press charges or seek damages from your perpetrator, contact a sexual assault attorney with experience advocating for survivors’ rights.