In the past week, the Victim Service Center in Orange County has seen a major spike in the number of sexual assault cases.
- 14 people reported being sexually assaulted in the last week
- Victim Service Center: Drastic increase from same time last year
- If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted: Victim Service Center Confidential Helpline at 407-497-6701
In six days last week, 14 people reported being sexually assaulted to the center. According to advocates, that number is a drastic increase from the amount of cases they handled this same time last year.
"We will see an increase in cases around the holidays, and that's generally because more people are home for the holidays. A lot of people are visiting and there is a lot of partying that's going on," explained Lui Damiani, the executive director of Victim Service Center.
Ten years ago, Rachel was assaulted inside her home.
"I entered my home one evening to find a stranger inside and he had a gun. He sexually assaulted me," Rachel said. "All I kept thinking was how was I going to stay alive."
Following the attack, her assailant forced her to drive to an ATM, empty her account and give him the cash. Shortly after she got away, and called the police. Immediately first responders took her to the Victim Service Center where she received help and treatment following the attack.
Several years later, Rachel is now back at the Victim Service Center providing aide to victims in need.
"It's never the victims fault. Not what they drank, not how they dressed, not the way they acted. Nothing warrants doing that to another human being," Rachel explained.
Although predicting an assault may be impossible, preventing potentially dangerous situations is not.
Rachel says everyone this holiday season can stay safe while also having fun if they remain aware and vigilant.
"Don't be afraid to step in. Don't be afraid to be a friend or a citizen or a fellow human being," she said.
Counselors at the Victim Service Center say the best way to be an active bystander is to safely intervene in any potentially dangerous situations. They suggest people stay in groups, and make sure to keep a close eye on your children and the ones closest to you.
Anyone who believes they were a victim of a sexual assault or know someone who was and is in need of help can contact the Victim Service Center Confidential Helpline at 407-497-6701.