Some crime rates decreased, some didn’t
By the numbers:
¯ On average, there are 433,648 victims of rape and sexual assault each year in the U.S.
¯ Ages 12-34 are the highest risk years for rape and sexual assault.
¯ Those aged 65 and older are 92 percent less likely than 12-24 year olds to be a victim of rape or sexual assault.
¯ Those aged 65 and older are 83 percent less likely than 25-49 year olds.
Source: RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Despite the decrease in many crime statistics from 2019 to 2020, there is one increase that stands out. Rape.
Washington County doesn’t have many rapes, but an increase from 18 to 25 is a dramatic jump.
“It’s seen across the spectrum,” said Washington County Chief Deputy Mark Warden. “It’s up nationwide.”
He said he believes the numbers correlate with quarantining and the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of factors that set up a horrible storm,” he noted.
But according to Alison Browning, intensive outpatient counselor at Life & Purpose Behavioral Health, that might not be the answer.
“It’s not a surprise because we hear about (rape) way more frequently than people expect,” she said. “Only we hear about it four or five years later. People are feeling empowered to come forward.”
She said that more and more, adults are visiting therapists and counselors to talk about how past sexual assaults and rape are affecting their relationships.
“They’re feeling empowered, strong and courageous and they’re speaking out,” Browning said. “Not a lot of people are going straight to the police. They are going to a trusted individual and then that person is helping them figure out what to do next.”
Victims have trouble with coming forward because of the intimidation and fear they feel about their case going to trial.
“The fear is that everybody is going to know,” she explained. “The victim has a level of guilt and shame about telling everybody.”
Browning sees a generational shift in how people are handling their mental health. Younger generations are learning to take care of themselves.
“You don’t have to work yourself to death. You don’t have to work 90 hours a week or sacrifice yourself for someone else’s happiness,” she remarked. “People are saying ‘no, we don’t like that. We don’t like being silent. We don’t like working that much.'”
She said rape is something that has always been around, people are just now talking about it. Before, it was a taboo subject.
“The amount of women that can say ‘I’ve been assaulted in my life’ is astounding,” Browning noted. “You’d be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn’t at least been groped when they didn’t want to be. They are told to be silent. They aren’t sitting down and shutting up anymore.”
The World Population Review notes only 9 percent of rapists in the U.S. get prosecuted, and only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison.
Michele Newbanks can be reached at