WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Reported rapes in the city of Wilmington increased in 2013, but there is some positive to consider in the potentially alarming statistic, according to staff at the Rape Crisis Center.
Year-end figures released by the Wilmington Police Department show that reports of rape jumped from 23 in 2012 to 40 in 2013.
Deanna Stoker, supervisor at the Rape Crisis Center in Wilmington, said the 74% increase is a sign that the community is doing a better job of showing support for survivors of sexual assault.
"Anytime something like this happens to another human being it's a horrible thing," she said. "But that they feel comfortable enough to report it, I think is wonderful."
Stoker said survivors then help the community by doing the difficult task of going on record with their traumatic experience.
"They're doing what we ask them to do to help keep the rest of us safe," Stoker said.
A change at the federal level could also be contributing to the increase. The Department of Justice expanded the definition of rape in 2012 to include all forms of penetration and male survivors.
For these reasons, Stoker said the increase in reported cases does not necessarily mean there's an increase in committed crimes; however, she said there are still many cases that likely go unreported.
"While 40 is high, I think we're only hitting the tip of the iceberg," Stoker said.
Anyone can contact the 24-hour hotline for the Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center at 910-392-7460.
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