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North Coast Rape Crisis Team: Reports of sexual assault spike during Kavanaugh hearing

Since the start of the #MeToo movement, allegations of sexual assault have filled mainstream news headlines. More recently, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her prompted the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) to report an increase in calls to the national hotline.

RAINN reported that on the day of the hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reports of sexual assault increased by 201 percent. According to the network, it isn't unusual to see an increase in calls when allegations of sexual assault are in the news. The network said this year it has seen a 45.6 percent increase in calls compared to the same time last year.

The North Coast Rape Crisis Team (NCRCT) reports that in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, the trend has been similar.

"We've definitely seen an increase, particularly when we compare the month of September this year to the month of September last year," Paula ArrowSmith-Jones, community outreach coordinator for the NCRCT said. "And we can't say all of those are connected directly with the Kavanaugh hearings but we can say that certainly there's some correlation and we have received calls from people that are naming that specifically."

Arrowsmith-Jones says in September of 2017 the Humboldt County center received 110 calls, and in September of 2018 the center received 205 calls, an 86 percent increase. For Del Norte County, the center received 15 calls during the month of September in 2017 and 23 during the month of September in 2018, a 53 percent increase.

Arrowsmith-Jones says victims of all ages and genders are coming forward.

"We might hear from somebody that was assaulted today or we might hear from somebody who experienced violence 30 or 50 years ago and something happens that causes them or motivates them to reach out for support," Arrowsmith-Jones said.

She also says reports of sexual assault rarely turn out to be false, but it does happen.

"Depending on the research, it's between 2 and 4 percent of reported rapes are believed to be false," Arrowsmith-Jones said. "So we at rape crisis, we would certainly never knowingly support someone in filing a false allegation, that hurts not only the person they're accusing, but all survivors. We just understand that approximately 98 percent of the time, the person is telling the truth."


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