A 46 percent rise in reported forcible rapes in the city of Dearborn from 2009 to 2010 has police and sexual assault victim advocates concerned–and looking to discuss ways to address the issue.
According to the , reported rapes in Dearborn rose from 16 in 2009 to 30 in 2010.
The number is higher than the national rate of forcible rapes, which in 2010 was estimated at 54.2 per 100,000 female inhabitants, according to the FBI. According to 2010 census data, Dearborn is home to just under 50,000 women.
Also, the 84,767 forcible rapes reported nationwide in 2010 showed a 5 percent drop from 2009 numbers. Since 2006, that number has dropped 10.3 percent nationwide.
Michigan rape statistics showed an increase in reports from 2009 to 2010, by 3.3 percent.
“The has worked very hard on encouraging people to report assault and all crimes,” Police Chief Ronald Haddad said, adding that he is concerned about the jump in reported rapes.
Haddad said that his department has always and will continue to treat the issue of rape seriously, and that one of his officers currently sits on a regional task force on sexual assault.
Providing A Support System
But helping those who have been victimized goes beyond reporting.
The Dearborn police work with First Step, a shelter and services program for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault in Wayne County.
In March 2009, First Step implemented the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, which served more than 160 survivors just in its first 10 months, according to their annual report. Police departments such as Dearborn's refer many of those victims.
Victims of sexual assault are provided medical assistance, as well as emotional and psychological support through individual and group counseling programs.
But the most difficult hurdle to fighting sexual assault is making sure crimes are reported.
Haddad said that he and his team have looked at the forcible rape statistics, and that several of what he called “unfortunate characteristics” emerged as themes.
“Most of these (cases of rape) are between known parties–people who know each other,” he said. “Another unfortunate characteristic is adult actors with victims under 17 years old.”
First Step’s statistics confirm that 75 percent of sexual assault victims are assaulted by someone they know.
Both instances, combined with long-standing social stigma surrounding sexual assault, mean that victims are less likely to report the crimes against them. First Step estimates the number of reported sexual assaults to be around 10-18 percent of actual incidents.
Speaking Up, Speaking Out
One group at the is looking to change that statistic.
The Women in Learning and Leadership program serves the purpose of encouraging academic excellence for women and overcoming obstacles created by gender, while promoting self-confidence.
In recent years, WILL has begun a Take Back the Night event at UM-Dearborn, held each year to encourage visibility and strength of sexual assault survivors and those who care about them.
This year’s event
Kylla Weir-Anderson, a senior in the WILL program and one of this year’s TBTN organizers, explained that the event is a place where “victims, survivors, supporters, friends and family will have an opportunity to share their story in a place that’s safe, non-condemning and nonjudgmental.”
The event includes a march around campus, rally and speak out with survivors, as well as materials and representatives from local groups such as First Step and UM-Dearborn’s Women’s Resource Center.
“We had a huge turnout last year,” Weir-Anderson said. “People were very excited about coming to support this event.”
Weir-Anderson said she was shocked to hear that Dearborn’s reported rapes had nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010.
“It makes me angry, it makes me sad, and it’s startling,” she said. “It makes you wonder: What can you do? We need to have events like (Take Back the Night); we need to highlight sexual assault in our community.”