National Sexual Assault Hotline Helps Record Number of Survivors

RAINN’s hotlines last month helped a record 14,606 survivors of sexual violence, up 34% from the prior year. RAINN's Online Hotline saw an even bigger increase in demand, with 4,532 people getting help, up 60% from the previous year. The increased usage of the hotlines, which has continued in October, is due to a combination of additional staff and greater national media exposure (including the inclusion of the hotline in a Lady Gaga music video).

“Now, more than, ever people are seeking help online, and the National Sexual Assault Hotline ensures that the help they're receiving comes from someone well trained to work with survivors,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “We’ve brought on board additional staff to help, and they’ve done a terrific job providing help to more people than ever before. Our 1,000 local partners have also done a tremendous job, helping more than 8,000 callers last month.”

Thanks to thousands of individual donors, as well as Vision 21 grants from the Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime, RAINN has been able to significantly increase 24/7 staffing. “The additional funding has made these services available to even more people,” said Jennifer Wilson Marsh, RAINN’s vice president for victim services. “Still, we have a way to go before we fully meet the demand — we estimate that as many as 25% of visitors leave before getting help, deterred by the wait time. Our goal is to raise additional funds to continue growing our capacity, so that we’re able to help everyone who visits online.rainn.org.”

The National Sexual Assault Hotline last month received high-profile from national television events such as A&E’s airing of Cosby: The Women Speak, and Happy Valley, a documentary about the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal — as well as TNT’s Cold Justice: Sex Crimes, a new series focused on the backlog of untested rape kits, contributed to the record-breaking month. Lady Gaga’s new music video Til It Happens to You, featuring the National Sexual Assault Hotline, was released in partnership with The Hunting Ground, received more than 17 million views, while the #TalkToRAINN social media campaign activated thousands of college students nationwide.

Sexual assault is a crime that primarily affects young people: 80 percent of all rape victims are under the age of 30. The Online Hotline, which was the web’s first secure hotline service when it launched in 2006, was designed with this young demographic in mind; almost one in three minors who use the National Sexual Assault Hotline say they are disclosing the sexual assault or abuse for the first time.

“We are incredibly proud of our trained support specialists who take chat sessions around the clock,” said Marsh. “These specialists, and the staff and volunteers at our local partners, are truly first responders, helping survivors take the first step towards recovery.”

Visit RAINN’s YouTube channel to hear from survivors and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Sexual Assault Hotline (also available in Spanish).

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: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org, y en español: rainn.org/es.

About RAINN
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of "America's 100 Best Charities" by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. In 2015, the Online Hotline expanded to offer services in Spanish at rainn.org/es. The hotlines have helped more than two million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.

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