Local rape numbers on the rise

Sexual assault on the rise in Georgia

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says it’s seeing an alarming trend when it comes to sexual assaults statewide. The numbers are trending upwards. In a WTOC investigation, Romney Smith looked into local numbers and the resources available to help.

The state of Georgia has seen its number of rapes rise every year since 2013. Chatham County’s numbers are trending upwards as well.

Doris Williams, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center, says she’s not surprised to learn the number of rapes in Chatham County are on average, increasing.

“It’s disturbing that it’s still steadily increasing, but it’s good because a lot of assailants tend to commit the crime again, so we’re more likely to catch them. We’re more likely to get them prosecuted, as well as it’s empowering to report it,” Williams said.

Sgt. Tiffany Manuel is in charge of the Savannah Police Department Special Victims Unit. She says they are aware that it is a major issue.

“It’s an under-reported crime. It is, and a lot of people have a hard time coming forward admitting that this happened to them,” Sgt. Manuel said.

WTOC looked into the data. Since 2013, the number of reported sexual assaults in the state of Georgia has continually increased. When we looked at local counties, the numbers vary, but on average, trend upwards. In fact, the number of rapes in Chatham County doubled from 2013 to 2017.

2017

  • Georgia rapes = 2,684
  • Savannah area rapes = 128
    • Bryan rapes = 8
    • Chatham rapes = 115
    • Effingham rapes = 5

2016

  • Georgia rapes = 2,407
  • Savannah area rapes = 79
    • Bryan rapes = 7
    • Chatham rapes = 60
    • Effingham rapes = 12

2015

  • Georgia rapes = 2,222
  • Savannah area rapes = 83
    • Bryan rapes = 5
    • Chatham rapes = 70
    • Effingham rapes = 8

2014

  • Georgia rapes = 2,091
  • Savannah area rapes = 77
    • Bryan rapes = 1
    • Chatham rapes = 74
    • Effingham rapes = 2

2013

  • Georgia rapes = 1,934
  • Savannah area rapes = 68
    • Bryan rapes = 2
    • Chatham rapes = 57
    • Effingham rapes = 9

“It would be amazing if it goes down, I mean, if it goes to zero, it would be awesome,” Williams said.

Until those numbers are at zero, the Savannah Police Department says it’s ready to help any person who survives a sexual assault.

“When a person is a victim of a sexual assault, it’s important that they report so that we the police can then try to investigate it and be able to hopefully ascertain who did that to them, put them behind bars, and help them get justice,” Sgt. Manuel said.

We asked both women what they believe caused the increase in reported sexual assaults.

“I honestly think that it’s more people are willing to report, and I think that a lot of that is between social media, the news, and things that are going on in the world right now. It allows victims to feel confident and able to come forward,” Sgt. Manuel said.

It’s also the increased awareness of the problem and access to free resources.

“The whole goal of our agency is to change the way society views a rape victim, and hopefully reduce the amount of rapes in our area as well as educate our community,” Williams said.

Below is an extended interview with Savannah Police explaining what happens step by step after a person reports a sexual assault assault, as well as contact information for resources.

Local rape numbers rise: Extended interview

Sexual Assault Resources:

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