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Reports Of Sexual Assault Are Increasing Nationwide For This Reason

Police departments all over the country are noticing a significant increase in reported rapes, with many victims coming forward about years-old assaults, The Washington Post reports.

New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton has dubbed the phenomenon “the Cosby Effect.”

According to FBI data, New York saw a 6 percent increase in rape reports in 2015. Other cities that noted similar patterns include Los Angeles, with a 12 percent increase; Chicago, with 7 percent; and Houston, with a whopping 19 percent increase.

In each of the cities, the number of “delayed reports” climbed as well; in Houston, where the jump was highest, delayed reports went up from 76 in 2014 to 125 in 2015.

In addition, advocacy organization The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network saw a 10 percent increase in hotline calls last year. Activists hope this surge reflects a cultural paradigm shift to sympathize with victims, rather than blame them.

Sadly, the numbers say otherwise: Only 32 percent of rapes are reported, according to estimates from the Department of Justice and just 2 percent lead to conviction. That's not very encouraging.

Though Commissioner Bratton thinks the uptick in reports is linked, in part, with the public's outrage over Cosby's crimes, he emphasizes that all assault victims — not just ones linked to celebrities — deserve their cases to be investigated.

On a radio show, Bratton said,

Some of the rapes [Cosby] is accused of go back 30 or 40 years. We have really made a concerted effort to try and encourage the victims of rape to come forward.

It's common for victims of assault to blame themselves or feel ashamed and rather forget about the incident than re-hash it to the police and in court.

But if you have been the victim of rape, know this: You are not alone. An estimated 1 in 5 women on college campuses are assaulted every year, and more than 293,000 people are raped in the US each year.

If not for you, speak up for the other women (or men, or children) who are too scared to come forward. We're all in this together — and the only way to squash these statistics is to actively fight them.

If you have been the victim of rape, visit your local emergency room and report the incident to police as soon as possible. Learn more at AfterSilence.Org or call the national sexual assault hotline at 800-656-HOPE.

Citations: Bill Cosby might have changed the way police investigate rape (The Washington Post)