Lockdown Contributing to Sexual Violence; Emergency Legal Fund Launched to Address Anticipated Surge
BOSTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / July 21, 2020 / While home is a safe place for many of us, experts reveal that sexual violence is a hidden consequence of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. The chaos and instability resulting from this crisis make women and children exponentially more vulnerable right now. The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) reported today on the impact of victims being quarantined with their abusers. To meet the financial demands that accompany providing free legal services to sexual assault survivors, the VRLC launched an Emergency Fund, Be The Light, in an effort to raise $200,000 to support victims in need of help.
From January 2020 through May 2020, the VRLC saw a 65 percent decrease in the number of sexual assault victims reaching out for legal assistance. June data shows an increase of 30 percent in the number of victims reaching out for legal assistance, and experts anticipate a continued surge of victims needing critical services as the quarantine restrictions are fully lifted.
"There is no flattening of the curve when it comes to sexual violence. Reports of child sexual abuse have dropped since the COVID-19 pandemic started because young sexual assault victims are currently isolated from their teachers, school nurses, friends and extended family -- those they turn to for help," says Stacy Malone, Esq., Executive Director of the VRLC. "This year, we anticipate a surge in demand for our services all at once and our challenge will be to replace the level of fundraising we usually achieve at in-person events like our annual Shining Star Gala. With in-person events postponed indefinitely, our call for donations is even more urgent than ever."
During this pandemic, sexual assault survivors are isolated and lack the ability and privacy to access help. Research shows that:
- One in 10 children have experienced sexual abuse before the age of 10
- 93% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator
- 34% of all victims are under 12 and 66% are between ages 12 and 17
- Only 2% of rapists go to jail
When stay-at-home restrictions fully lift, a surge of victims will come forward for help all at once. The $200,000 that the VRLC is seeking to raise will help victims secure emergency restraining orders, ensure stabilized housing, assist with a safe return to school for children, and to address the myriad of legal needs following sexual violence.
The VRLC provides free, trauma-informed legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault to help stabilize their safety, privacy, housing, education, employment and immigration status. The VRLC provides free civil legal assistance to over 800 sexual assault survivors annually in Massachusetts and Oregon, along with nationwide training for attorneys.
For more information about the Victim Rights Law Center visit victimrights.org.
The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) was founded in 2003 to fill a critical void in services for sexual assault victims. It is the first nonprofit law center in the country solely dedicated to serving the critical legal needs of sexual assault victims. The organization's mission is to provide free, trauma-informed civil legal representation to victims of rape and sexual assault to help rebuild their lives; and to promote a national movement committed to seeking justice for every rape and sexual assault victim. VRLC attorneys also lend their expertise to provide guidance to state and federal agencies, and local and national legislators on gender-based violence.
SOURCE: The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC)