Sexual assault hotlines reported an increase in calls during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing on Thursday in which Christine Blasey Ford testified about her alleged sexual assault.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, saw “unprecedented wait times” for both its hotline and online chat on Thursday.
“The number of people helped by the National Sexual Assault Hotline was 201 percent above average yesterday,” RAINN said on Twitter Friday morning.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Brett Kavanaugh vote on Friday, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said that the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 147 percent increase in calls on Thursday, during the Kavanaugh hearing. (The National Sexual Assault Hotline is operated by RAINN and routes callers to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of their phone number.)
Other sexual assault hotlines reported a flurry of activity on Thursday, as well, like BARCC, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.
“During and after major news events like this, we always see an increase in people reaching out for support," Gina Scaramella, BARCC executive director, told Metro in a statement. "This week, and especially yesterday and this morning, has been busier than average for our 24-7 hotline. By 11:00 a.m. this morning, we had already received as many calls as we usually get in a whole day."
Though BARCC is headquartered in Boston, the organization says it’s sexual assault hotline is a resource for any sexual assault survivor around the country.
Sexual assault survivors have been sharing their own stories in droves since the #MeToo movement first gained steam, and that visibility has only increased throughout the Kavanaugh hearings. Before Dr. Ford’s testimony, survivors shared their stories with the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.
On Friday, in the wake of Dr. Ford’s testimony, two women confronted Sen. Jeff Flake after he made it known that he would vote in favor of Kavanaugh.
“Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me. That you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land,” said one of the woman, who identified herself as a sexual assault survivor.
Support for sexual assault survivors in wake of Kavanaugh hearings
BARCC shared multiple videos on Facebook after Thursday’s Kavanaugh hearing with messages to sexual assault survivors.
One video’s message is displayed on hand-held signs held by BARCC staffers: “Sexual assault is all over the media. It’s great people are talking about it. It can also be intense and traumatic for survivors. Take care of yourself and others." The other video includes a flipbook of messages to survivors with notes like “I believe you,” and “never let anyone tell you there is a right or wrong way to be a survivor.”
“These hearings and the subsequent news coverage and conversations are often retraumatizing to survivors of sexual harassment and assault, and people are reaching out for support. Some of the people we’ve been talking with are reaching out with concerns and questions about reporting and fears about being asked about why they didn’t report or why it may have taken so long to report," Scaramella said.
“In times like this, we encourage people to regularly step away from watching or reading the news, and to treat themselves kindly as much as possible," she added. "Reach out to your support networks to ask for and offer support, and if survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones would like to talk through the free and confidential resources and support available, they can call our 24-7 hotline at 800-841-8371.
BARCC also hosts workshops for sexual assault survivors 18 year and older who are in the Boston-Cambridge area as a form of support that goes a bit beyond sexual assault hotlines. Here’s the upcoming schedule.
BARCC workshops for sexual assault survivors
October 18: Introduction to Trauma
October 25: Self-Care for Survivors of Sexual Trauma
November 1: Relationships after Sexual Trauma
November 8: Identifying a Therapist
Check here for more information.
Sexual Assault Hotlines
National Sexual Assault Hotline / RAINN 1-800-656-4673
Safe Horizon 1-800-621-HOPE (4673)
New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (M-F 9 am to 6 pm) (212) 514-SAFE (7233)