As the Bill Cosby's of the world are exposed, more victims of sexual assault are coming forward

Posted at 11:11 PM, Apr 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-26 23:11:11-04

TAMPA, Fla. — The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay says they are seeing huge spikes in the number of victims calling their hotline to report cases of sexual assault.

The CEO and President, Clara Reynolds, says the numbers are unprecedented.

“Our phone lines are very busy, just in sexual assault-related calls alone,” Reynolds said.  

Those are cases of people calling in after the 120 hour time period when nurses are able to conduct a sexual assault testing kit.

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“We have a 36 percent increase in those calls… We’ve gone from 150 calls a month on average to 237 calls a month on average people just here in Hillsborough County.”

The center compared statistics from January to April 2017 with the same period this year. In 2017, they had 600 calls for sexual assault. This year they are at 937.

“You think about Bill Cosby, who was America’s Dad for decades and decades, he was the guy on these Jello commercials and you see these women that never thought that they would be able to come forward,” Reynolds said. “And, if they came forward would they be believed or would they be shunned or ridiculed. Vindication is the word that pops into my head for all of those survivors.”

Reynolds said the "MeToo" movement and social media, in general, has given victims the confidence to come forward and to know they are not alone.

“Telling your story is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to getting to healing,” Reynolds said.  “As these silent survivors continue to speak out we will get out of this mindset of blaming the victim.”

Judge O'Neill ordered Cosby to surrender his passport but ruled he can remain free on $1 million bail until his sentencing sometime in the next 60 to 90 days.

Cosby will have to register as a sex offender.  He faces up to 30 years in prison.

The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Anyone needing help can call 2-1-1 and talk to a trained professional.