CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Right now, Charlotte sits above the national average at about 50% of sexual abuse cases.
The national average is around 33%. Sgt. Ally Rooks with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Departments says to expect more cases to be reported as more resources open back up. Officials say they’re seeing a 42% increase in sexual assault cases overall. So far 98 cases involving adults have been reported compared to 81 cases last year.
“15 have been cleared by arrest. 10 of those cases were actually reported in 2021 but did not occur in 2021. It occurred in years previously. And then three of those cases were actually reported here in Charlotte but did not occur in charlotte,” Rooks said.
Officials say the number of children 16 and under that have been sexually assaulted has also gone up by 93%. Some children haven’t been able to report the incidents since returning to in-person learning. “A lot of the offenders for juvenile victims live in the home, they are the family members or the acquaintances. So that correlated with them being at home,” Rooks said. Underreporting is bogging the numbers as some incidents may be reported years after the attack, the victims may be too afraid to report the crime, or are unaware that they’ve been violated.
Cori Goldstein with Safe Alliance in Charlotte helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault cope with it all. “With a global pandemic, if you imagine all of the added barriers that can come into play, as well as the increased anxieties and unknowns that are out there,” Goldstein said. “It can only compound the issues and can really kind of impact someone’s ability to reach out or seek that support.”
She says there’s a stigma around a society that makes it uncomfortable for people to come forward after the abuse and takes time for victims to build the courage to talk about it. Right now she says the group is seeing consistent calls into their hotline number from victims and wants sexual assault survivors to know that help is out there.
“I think that’s an important message to get out there,” Goldstein said. “Because that also will help with ongoing prevention efforts as well as keeping children safe.” If you see or know that a child is being sexually assaulted or abused by law you are required to report it. You can click here for more information about Safe Alliance.