As sexual violence spikes, experts share message of strength

Locally there’s an average of about 187 cases that were reported to law enforcement and the Rape Crisis Center.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Experts are getting a head start on sending a message for National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

While it doesn’t start until April, we talked to experts about their message for survivors and trends for assault cases here in the CSRA.

At Augusta University, Shelli Larkin serves as the director of student health services. But she also serves as the chair of the Sexual Assault Response Team in the Augusta and Columbia Judicial Circuit.

“We are seeing an uptick already in 2023 as well,” she said.

Locally there’s an average of about 187 cases that were reported to law enforcement and the Rape Crisis Center.

“I think coming out of COVID, you’re seeing a lot of that. We’re seeing it in our younger population, 14-18 years old, and you’re going to see in the research that most violence is going to happen by the time they turn 18. Whether that’s childhood violence, sexual trauma, personal violence, and we’re seeing it more and more in dating violence in that population,” said Larkin.

In the CSRA, Larkin says only about 20 percent of sexual assault victims report crimes against them.

A new CDC report shows the percentage of young women who have ever been forced to have sex increased from 2011 to 2021.

“Our goal is that they report so we can help them and provide resources,” she said.

Larkin says resources like schools, police, Safe Homes of Augusta, the Child Enrichment center, and every hospital offer services to help victims. She says early education is important like the events Augusta University sets up every year to show support and provide outlets for sexual assault victims.

“You have more than just one person that can surround you with help,” she said.

Larkin says that as a part of her Sexual Assault Response Team, the state mandates they have a protocol in place with the chief justices in the Judicial Circuit to make sure they have resources and reporting in place for victims.

If you are someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, call the Rape Crisis Center and Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.