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Dearborn Police, Victim Advocates Reflect on 46 Percent Jump in City's Reported Rapes

FBI reports of forcible rape in Dearborn jumped from 16 to 30 from 2009 to 2010, leaving police and support groups to figure out why–and how to address the issue.

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.”

Ben Bachrach October 06, 2011 at 12:34 PM
How many of the perpetrators in 2009 were arrested and found guilty? How many of the perpetrators in 2010 were arrested and found guilty?
Frank Lee October 06, 2011 at 12:41 PM
I think it is time for mayor O'Reilly to hold a golf outing so funds could be raised to give each local rapist a one way high speed rail ticket to Chicago. Congratulations O'Reilly not only have you destroyed the cities financial balance sheet, your inability to institute effective policing has turned our city into conviction free zone for criminals.
City of Dearborn (Editor) October 07, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Interesting comments, Frank and Ben. FBI crime stats do only follow reports, not convictions - so it's hard to say. Several factors, though: Rape cases could take months or even years to prosecute. And that's if a suspect is even apprehended, which many times, they're not. My biggest question - which, unfortunately, also doesn't have a clear answer, is whether more people are reporting rapes, or more are actually occurring. It's a difficult statistic to grapple with, for sure, but one worth thinking about, don't you think?
Mary Jo Durivage October 07, 2011 at 08:48 PM
Thanks for the important article, Jessica. I did not realize it was such an issue in Dearborn. I would like to point something out about the vocabulary in the article. You use "forcible" rape in the article. I suspect that that is how rapes are described and cataloged by law enforcement agencies. However, the very nature of rape is FORCE. To me, to say "forcible" rape is not only redundant but it is also shows a lack of understanding of this crime by agencies which use it. Keep up the good work.
Ben Bachrach October 07, 2011 at 10:18 PM
Thanks Jessica and Mary Jo for the information. Note to Frank Lee - trying to make every news report an opportunity to campaign against the mayor will cause people to ignore your legitimate complaints because of all the bogus issues you raise. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf.
DG October 08, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Hopefully this means that some of the efforts to educate and increase awareness are working in the community. Again hopefully, more women are making reports, which would obviously result in increased rape reports as the article indicates.
Molly Tippen October 10, 2011 at 03:22 AM
Mary Jo - I think I can shed some light on the "forcible" label used by the FBI to track incidents. Law enforcement breaks down sexual assaults in a handful of categories --two of which are forcible and statuatory. "Forcible" is what we generally think of as rape; a person forcing themselves on an unwilling victim. The other category is "statuatory," which is when a legal adult and a person below the age of consent have sex. The FBI Part One report only tracks the former, not the latter. It's not that the latter is not a serious offense -- it is -- but it's not one of the categories tracked in this particular FBI report. Law enforcement officials do understand this.

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