High profile celebrity sexual harassment allegations empower victims to be unafraid

Local crisis center reporting increased rape exams

TAMPA - We’ve heard a lot over the past year, and in recent weeks, about powerful Hollywood celebrities accused of heinous and horrific acts towards women.  The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay says victims are now hearing a call to action to not be silenced.

“We will see women and men come to us that have been carrying this with them for 5, 10, 15, and in some cases 40 or 50 years,” Clare Reynolds, the President and CEO of the Crisis Center said.  “And, they finally feel now they have been empowered by what they have seen in the media.”

Reynolds said social media campaigns like #Me2 are also pushing the conversation into the public eye like she’s never seen before.

“I think now we are starting to shift that conversation… the perpetrators are the ones to blame not the victim,” Reynolds said.

This year Reynolds said the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay has done 356 rape exams in 2017 for their calendar year of Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. In 2016, Reynolds said they did 299 exams.

Reynolds credits that to what happened during the campaign and the now infamous Access Hollywood tape of then candidate Trump bragging about groping women.

“And again, the support that society is now giving to these victims has resulted in more people coming forward,” Reynolds said. “You hate to know these things are happening. But, what I appreciate is that people are coming forward to talk about it.”

Reynolds said victims of sex crimes or harassment often times feel guilty, that it is their fault.  She has this message for anyone in need.

“You didn’t ask for this, it’s not your fault,” Reynolds said.  “And if you are brave enough and ready to take that step you can call 211, 24 hours a day seven days a week and that person that picks up that phone is going to believe you and you can remain anonymous.”

For more information on the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay click here.

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