Reporting sexual assault helps break the cycle -

How to report sexual assault

Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, and advocates for rape victims say it's easy to see why.

"Instead of the perpetrator being tried, we try the victim. We bring up past behaviors and what they did wrong and this kind of thing. We blur the fact, at least in my mind, we blur the fact that the people that should be held accountable are the perpetrators," says crisis counselor Bill Farris.

People like Farris want to end that stigma, because silence leads to repeat attacks.

"We're not going to get the perpetrator off of the street if the victim doesn't report. He's free to go on his way and attack someone else," he said.

From a law enforcement perspective, police say reporting the crime quickly will help build the case against a rapist.

"Get to a hospital. Let the doctors see you as soon as possible because that first evidence is crucial to any case," says police spokesman Harry Hobbs.

According to national statistics on sexual assault and rape, eighty percent of victims are under the age of 30 and in two-thirds of cases, victims know their attacker.

"They frequent parties and other places where people are going to be in vulnerable situations. They often use drugs to assist them. Alcohol is probably the number one date rape drug in the world," said Farris.

If you or someone you love becomes a victim of sexual assault, feelings of shame, guilt, fear and shock are normal. It's important to tell someone you trust and seek assistance as soon as possible.

Any victim of sexual assault needing immediate or long term help can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673. It's confidential and is staffed 24 hours a day. Counselors available can link you up with a rape crisis center close to where you live.

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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