Over 30 rapes have been reported in Fullerton since January 2021 according to police records. The most recent FBI records for our city show 80 reported rapes in 2019, 58 in 2020, and 30 in 2021 as of August. Nearly 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported, according to a Justice Department analysis of violent crime in 2016.
“Victims are often too ashamed to come forward. Sexual assault is a very humiliating and dehumanizing act against someone,” psychotherapist and author Beverly Engel said. “The person really feels invaded and defiled, and there is a lot of shame attached to that. Victims of sexual assault almost always blame themselves, and we can understand why, because in our culture, we tend to blame victims in general. We say things like, ‘She shouldn’t have been wearing that kind of outfit, she shouldn’t have drunk so much, why did she go to that party?’ We find some reason to blame the victim.”
According to the United States Justice Department, approximately 2% of all rape complaints are false. To put it another way, if you believe a victim, you will be wrong 2 times out of 100. On the other hand, if you believe the accused rapist, you will be wrong 98 times out of 100.
Laws against sexual assault are insufficient and inconsistent leaving many victims convinced that informing law enforcement will not help them, and in some cases could make things worse instead of better, according to Equality Now, an international human rights organization.
For every 100 rapes and sexual assaults reported to police, 18 led to an arrest, according to a study conducted by professors in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at University of Massachusetts. The researchers found that police and prosecutors declined to make arrests or move forward with cases based on their judgments about the victim’s credibility. Factors such as mental health, use of alcohol or drugs and other so-called “risky” behaviors cause prosecutors to assume that juries will be unlikely to convict thus making the case unwinnable.
Sexual assault is not rare. One in five women and one in 71 men are raped every year, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), which researches sexual assault and provides resources for victims. Across the nation 734,630 people reported being raped (including threatened, attempted, or completed rape) in 2018.
Rapists are criminals and predators who seek out vulnerable targets. In a recent report by CNN, a well-known surgeon from Newport Beach and his girlfriend were charged with drugging and sexually assaulting two women and Southern California authorities said they believe there could be many more victims as the couple video-taped over 1000 unconscious women being raped. The couple have pleaded not guilty in the on-going court trial claiming the acts were consensual.
The social awareness that men and women have been, and continue to be, sexually assaulted has led to many new laws, legal clarifications, and even Congressional bills. It has let people who are survivors know that they are not alone and emboldened a generation of survivors to speak out against perpetrators.
Movements such as #MeToo, #MeTooK-12, #ChurchToo, and others have spread to over 85 countries. The magnitude of the number of sexual assault crimes may be reflected in the speed that the MeToo movement has been shared over social media. For instance, on Facebook the hashtag MeToo was used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours of when it was first posted.
If you are sexually assaulted or raped, it is not your fault. Go to The Safe Place at Anaheim Regional Medical Center, Orange County’s only sexual-assault examination unit: 1111 W. La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA and file a report with police as soon as possible. Your actions may save someone else from suffering the same fate.
For more information and help: Call the Orange County 24-hour Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Hotline (714) 957-2737 for confidential support from trained sexual assault counselors who can help you with resources.