iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With sexual assault accusations against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continuing to make headlines, the sexual assault hotline run by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) has seen a spike in calls.
Starting last Saturday, RAINN officials said their live chat helpline saw an increase in use of 33 percent, and in recent days, calls to the telephone hotline have also increased. Currently, call volume to the helpline is about 35 percent higher than it was last Thursday, according to RAINN President Scott Berkowitz.
RAINN said it started to receive more calls and visits to its online helpline after a recording emerged last Friday of Trump making lewd comments about women ahead of a taped “Access Hollywood” appearance in 2005. “A lot of people calling have specifically said that it was the Trump stuff that got them thinking [about calling],” Berkowitz told ABC News.
While not on camera, Trump spoke about his attempt to have sex with a married woman and used graphic language that indicated he felt celebrities can grope women without consequence. Since that recording was first published by The Washington Post on Oct. 7, sexual assault has continued to be a central issue in the campaign in recent days as multiple women have stepped forward to publicly accuse Trump of sexual assault. Trump has denied all of these allegations and instead has highlighted the stories of women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault and sexual harassment. President Clinton has denied the allegations against him.
Berkowitz said in the past RAINN has seen a similar increase in calls after other sexual assault cases made headlines, such as when a Stanford University student was found guilty of sexual assault or when dozens of women made accusations against Bill Cosby, who has denied those allegations.
“We definitely see a spike when there’s a high-profile case going on,” said Berkowitz.
Calls that RAINN receives after these sexual assault stories often include individuals who have not yet reported their assaults or feel they need emotional help.
“The nature of those calls tend to be more emotional support; sometimes they have questions [if] it’s too late to report [an assault],” Berkowitz said.
RAINN warns survivors of sexual assault that consuming media can be difficult if sexual assault is depicted. “Portrayals of sexual violence in movies, television shows, the news, and social media can prompt negative reactions, from flashbacks and anxiety to feelings of sadness or irritability,” the organization advises online.
RAINN’s full list of advice for dealing with sexual assault as depicted in the media can be found here.
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