New numbers from Collier County Sheriff’s Office show from 2017 to 2018, the number of rape cases reported increased 42 percent.
An uptick in reports shows more people are less afraid to come out about being attacked and are finding comfort knowing they are not alone in coming forward.
“It’s like people are starting to say, ‘hey, they’re listening to them, maybe I need to speak up then I can start healing,'” said Eileen Wesley, the executive director of Project Help.
Collier County Rape Crisis Center help said it is not necessarily an increase in rapes happening, but more victim’s are coming out about their awful experience.
A credit they give to the #MeToo movement.
“The #MeToo movement behind us and the hashtag, #WhyIDidn’tReport, are really aiding us in letting the community hear what we have to say,” Wesley said.
According to Project Help, almost 350 more victims came forward in 2018 compared to the previous year.
“There’s thousands and thousands of tweets,” Wesley said. “People start reading those and realizing, ‘maybe I should report. Maybe I should go talk to someone.'”
And once they are able to speak with someone, Project Help says the local law enforcement has thirty days to send the kit to the state, who then has twenty days to collect evidence.
Law enforcement says despite the increase in reports, the overall crime in the area was the lowest it has been.