Rape Crisis Center experiences spike in clients, national cases creating local awareness

AKRON, Ohio - The Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina Counties is experiencing a spike in clients and advocates believe there's a correlation between the increase and the numerous high-profile sexual misconduct claims coming out of Hollywood and Washington D.C.

"It's giving legitimacy to everyone, like this is happening. This is happening," said Cindy Bloom, the center's director. "It's giving that extra bit of courage and strength to be able to call."

Bloom said the center has experienced a ten percent spike in the number of sexual assault survivors reaching out to the hotline over the past few months. Many of them shared their stories and asked for help, and some mentioned the national attention motivated them to break their silence.

Last year, the center had about 2,500 clients. Workers expect to exceed that number by the end of the year.  As of Sept. 1, 2017, the center has helped 2,332 clients.

National news coverage has focused on sexual assault or harassment allegations that have been leveled against big names in Hollywood, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K.

In addition, sexual misconduct claims have surfaced against Judge Roy Moore, an Alabama candidate for Senate and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

"We need to step back and say it doesn't matter what they look like on the outside or what they appear to be. We need to listen to people," Bloom said.

Bloom said the agency helps survivors with therapy along with guiding them through the process of filing a police report or getting a forensic exam.

In addition to the spike in clients, Bloom said more police officers have been requesting help from advocates and there has been a jump in activity on the center's Facebook and Twitter pages.

"We're noticing that a lot more people are liking things and sharing information and wanting to get out the services that are available for survivors," Bloom added.

According to Bloom, one out of six women, and one out of 33 men have been victims of a sexual assault.

The 24-hour rape crisis line can be reached by dialing 330-434-7273.

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