(Host) The Women’s Rape Crisis Center in Burlington saw a dramatic increase in the number of calls to its crisis hotline over the past year.
Between July 2007 and June 2008, the number of calls increased 25% over the previous year. Elle Petcavage of the Women’s Rape Crisis Center says it’s hard to say whether the increase is due to more education and outreach, or more instances of sexual violence:
(Petcavage) "Unfortunately, sexual violence is a crime that carries a lot of silence and shame with it. So we really have very few resources, as a nation even to properly record how much sexual violence is happening in our nation and in our state, and in our communities. So really all we have to go off of is the numbers increasing of someone saying this happened to me."
(Host) Officials say the increase may be due to more education or more awareness of the problem. Petcavage says the Women’s Rape Crisis Center reached 36% more people with education programs over the same time period. The Burlington center tripled the number of college students reached last year. That’s significant because college students are at a high-risk for sexual violence.
Karen Tronsgard-Scott is with the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The network oversees sexual violence crisis groups statewide, and the organization has seen a steady increase in the number of reports over the past six years.
(Tronsgard-Scott) "Because this is a fairly new service in the scheme of things and because outreach has expanded over the years, I guess I would come down in favor of the idea that this is because of outreach. "
(Host) The Women’s Rape Crisis center says an increase in demand has increased the need for resources and volunteers.