Number of reported rapes on the rise In Birmingham; May not be a bad thing, experts say

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Inside the Birmingham crisis center, you'll find Rape Response - a place where victims can receive help after being sexually violated.

Recent FBI statistics report 92 rapes in the city of Birmingham during the first six months of 2017.

That's 23 more than the same time period in 2016.

But Rhiannon Reese, Rape Response director, says that doesn't mean there are more people being assaulted.

"As the numbers go up, what we're learning is because we've created a safe space because we've got those relationships with law enforcement and the legal system, people feel more comfortable coming forward and they're going to be taken seriously," Reese says.

She believes another reason victims feel more comfortable is the topic is discussed more openly now.

She points to the #metoo movement and the recent legal victories against several high profile people, like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby as examples.

"Now we're having these difficult conversations. We are having to come to terms with people we've looked up to in the past have hurt somebody and what do we do with that," Reece says.

But the reality is that even though more people are reporting the crime, there are still many others who aren't.

So to those still struggling to come forward, Reese has this advice.

"I say, 'We believe you. We know that it happened. We know you're telling the truth. You didn't do anything to cause it. And we're going to do everything in our power to support you.'"

If you have a situation that you need help with, Reese advises you to call the Rape Response crisis line at 205-323-7273.

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