CLEVELAND — According to data obtained from the Cleveland Police Department, there were 15% fewer reported cases of rape for 2020. On the surface, this is good news, but News 5 dug a little deeper and revealed things are much more troubling than they seem.
According to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, there was a 2% increase in the number of survivors receiving their services, year over year.
"I think there's a distinction between the number of rapes and sexual assaults that occur, and the number that is reported to formal authorities like a police department," said the center's President and CEO, Sondra Miller. "I think this report is an indication that people do not feel safe coming forward. On an average day, there are a lot of barriers for survivors to report their assault to police, COVID puts that many more barriers at play."
Miller contributed the drop in reported cases to the global pandemic. She said victims were less likely to seek help when they needed it.
"We have heard concerns from survivors on our hotline they they have concerns about going to a hospital emergency department to have a sexual assault kit done because they're afraid they'll go to a hospital and contract COVID," Miller said. "We are hearing from survivors that they can't get out of their house and the support system that they typically would lean on is not available to them right now."
And many victims who are forced to live with their abusers can't find the help they need.
"We are getting texts from survivors saying, 'I can't make a phone call to you because my abuser can hear the conversation, but I can text you quietly in the corner,'" she said.
Miller said the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is always open and ready to provide the services they need to feel safe.
"We're here for you whether it is a phone call or a chat or a text or you decide to physically walk into our offices," she said.
These are the numbers for the 24-hour Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (216) 619-6192 or (440) 423-2020. You can call or text either number. You can also chat with someone online.