Calls to sexual abuse hotlines have increased since more allegations of sexual assault against prominent leaders, including Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have come to light.
While Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, testified about the alleged assault before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, the National Sexual Assault Hotline saw a 147 percent increase above normal call volume. The hotline is operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, which partners with organizations across the country.
The next day the call volume was more than 200 percent above normal, according to the nonprofit organization.
Ford began the hearing by describing in graphic detail the 1982 night she said Kavanaugh assaulted her in an upstairs room at a party while a friend of Kavanaugh's, Mark Judge, watched.
"I believed he was going to rape me," she said.
Hours later, Kavanaugh forcefully declared "I am innocent," saying the incident never happened.
On average, there are 321,500 victims a year of sexual abuse, according to RAINN.
For those who survived sexual trauma, hearing Ford discuss the fear she felt was a trigger for the hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced a similar assault.
It is okay to turn off the news or log out social media for awhile to avoid hearing about the trauma you experienced and instead pick up the phone, call (407) 500-HEAL any time, day or night, and let a crisis counselor help support you. #TuesdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/6VOEJcSgZe — VictimServiceCenter (@vscflorida) September 25, 2018
"Hearing about sexual violence in the media and online can be very difficult for survivors and their loved ones," the organizations said in a tweet. "Remember to take care of yourself during these times."
The National Assault Hotline number is call 800-656-HOPE (4673), and an online chat is available at rainn.org.
The national hotline and online chat are experiencing long wait times due to the high call volume. There are local resources for survivors in the Orlando area.
The Victims Service Center of Central Florida offers counseling and resources for victims in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Counselors are available 24 hours a day.
"We are sorry you are having to relive your trauma, and cope with the grief again," the center tweeted Thursday. "We will always be here 24/7 at 407-500-HEAL to listen and help you find healing. #BelieveSurviors"
Harbor House of Central Florida has a 24-hour confidential hotline at 407-886-2856.
Even if you aren't affected by a traumatic experience, but want to help, News 6 has partnered with Public Good to provide more resources and donation information. Follow the prompts in the chat box below.
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