One in six women and one in 33 men in the United States have been victims of attempted or completed rape, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. Rape-victim advocates in Fresno County say our numbers reflect the national averages.
Inside Fresno’s Rape Counselling Services center there is beautiful handmade art lining the walls. It was created in therapy sessions by rape survivors. The center is the only one of its kind in Fresno County.
Programs director Raquel Garcia says the nonprofit saw a 30% rise in clients last year. They can get around 20 calls or walk-ins each day. She says the crime often stigmatizes victims as promiscuous or careless.
“Over 70% of individuals who are sexually assaulted are sexually assaulted by someone they know, someone they trust.”
Sergeant Daniel Macias, who supervises Fresno Police’s Sexual Assault Unit, says these crimes are most likely under-reported. His unit sees just over 1,000 sexual assault cases a year, including rape, internet crimes, and more.
“I think we’ve educated people to know ‘no means no,’ and if they believe they are a victim of a crime, regardless of what that may be, we will investigate it for you.”
The unit working with the California Department of Justice to search databases and catch culprits. At one point, the Department had a rape-kit backlog going back to the early 1990s. But with recent grants and new hires, detectives now have a majority of those kits tested.
Raquel Garcia says RCS continues to provide therapy and even staff to accompany victims to appointments.
“We provide information, and we provide options. We’re always there.”