Orange County rape crisis center sees more clients, but has funds cut

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Despite the increased attention on the prevalence of sexual assaults, some central North Carolina organizations trying to help survivors say they’ve struggled to get the resources to meet the increased demand.

“We’ve lost some grants this year, or have been cut down on some government (funds) and we can use that help,” said Gentry Hodnett, director of development and communications for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. “Even though we’re talking about it more, there’s still not more donations or funding coming to this movement at all.”

Hodnett said following the emergence of Me Too movement as well as the televised confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the center saw a spike in the number of people seeking services.

“Last year, we saw over a thousand clients, up from 600 the year before,” she said.

CBS17 spoke to Hodnett after The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last week released the results of a survey showing about one in three undergraduate women said they’d been sexually assaulted.

UNC was among more than 30 public and private schools to voluntarily take part in the survey. Nearly 6,000 students completed it, the university said.

UNC sent out a memo and results of the survey Tuesday to the community.

Among undergraduate students, 35.3% of females said they’d experienced unwanted sexual touching or penetration. That number climbed to 45% students in their fourth year or higher. Additionally, 10.4% of male undergraduates reported experiencing that as well.

“The truth of the matter is that we’re just finally getting to the tip of the iceberg about people coming forward,” said Hodnett.

Her organization has tried to call attention to the fact that Congress has not reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act since it expired earlier this year. Among other things, it has provided funding to rape crisis centers.

“Rolling back protections is not acceptable, and neither is maintaining the status quo; the new provisions in H.R. 1585 are essential to protect all survivors of sexual violence and increase the capacity of rape crisis centers and other direct service providers to serve survivors. The #MeToo movement encouraged more survivors to speak out about their experiences and seek help, which has been reflected by the increased demand for OCRCC services. Every survivor who comes to the OCRCC for support has a unique story and requires customized care. VAWA makes it possible for OCRCC staff to respond to each client and offer the type of care survivors need to heal,” wrote Abby Cooper, policy fellow for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

UNC administrators say they plan in the next month “to convene a coalition of students, faculty and staff to help us develop a comprehensive strategy for prevention and awareness that will resonate with students.”

UNC’s student government will hold a town hall Monday from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in room 100 in the Genome Science Building.

For more resources from the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, visit their website: http://ocrcc.org/ or call 866-WE-LISTEN.

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