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Reported fall in number of sexual assaults doesn’t tally with WRC

Sexual Assault has increased alarmingly in Bermuda, according to the Women’s Resource Centre (WRC), but figures from the Bermuda Police Service suggest the opposite.

The Quarterly Crime Statistics released yesterday by the Bermuda Police Service (BPS) show the number of sexual assaults falling slightly, with 36 incidents recorded in 2010 and 33 recorded in 2011.

A total of 21 individuals were arrested in 2011 in connection to the assaults.

Over the past five years the frequency of sexual assault incidents has varied, peaking in 2007 with 40 incidents, and reaching its lowest point in 2009 with 28 reported assaults.

Speaking out following the release of the figures yesterday, WRC Executive Director Elaine Williams said the statistics were “very strange,” saying figures from the Sexual Assault Response Team, which WRC and police are involved in, show a 50 percent year-on-year increase in sexual assault.

In a statement released following the conviction of Brittonie Taylor for sexual assault, Ms Williams said: “Statistics show that between 2010 and 2011, the instance of reported sexual assault increased by 50 percent in Bermuda.

“This is an alarming figure and we encourage women to intentionally be more aware of their surroundings, especially when they are alone.

“We also suggest that they should take a workshop in personal safety and self-defence. These workshops are offered at the WRC and include a display of safety devices that can be purchased to enhance safety.”

Ms Williams said that sexual assault are usually seasonal, becoming more likely in the summer months and during holidays.

“That’s when people let their guard down,” she said. “There is also the increased influence of alcohol and drugs during holiday periods.”

Ms Williams said neither the victims or the culprits of sexual assaults can be cut from a single cloth. All women are vulnerable, regardless of race, class or age, while rapists also come from all levels of education, socioeconomic backgrounds, professions and ethnic groups.

“Many rapists are normal men and generally they have a history of being physically or sexually abused as children, but they are still responsible for their actions,” she said.

She said that many sexual assaults remain unreported, in part because the victims fear others, even loved ones, knowing about what took place. The effects of such an attack can be devastating on the victim, particularly if the victim does not receive some form of help.

“If a woman does not seek help, there is a great possibility that she will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” Mrs Williams said. “It can have very debilitating effects on a victim’s lifestyle, including inability to perform normal daily tasks.

“In our experience, women display magnificent coping skills during an assault, even though they do not always realise that they have done so. Part of our job in counselling is to reinforce the woman’s confidence in her coping mechanisms. We can point out the ways in which she succeeded.

“Helping a rape victim to regain confidence in her own resources is a very important aspect of counselling.”

The WRC can be contacted at 295-3882, or in crisis situations only, at 295-7273.

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Published February 22, 2012 at 8:59 am (Updated February 22, 2012 at 8:59 am)

Reported fall in number of sexual assaults doesn’t tally with WRC

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