BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Bloomington police say the number of rapes they investigated in 2017 was higher than in years past, and local support agencies said they too saw an increase in the number of victims calling for help after a sexual assault.
Between 2016 and 2017, data shows the number of reported rapes in Bloomington went from 55 to 79.
“It’s quite a significant jump,” said Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff. However, he said the number of arrests in rape cases also increased, up to eleven in 2017 from just four in 2016.
The data also shows most victims knew their attacker.
“In eighty-nine percent of the cases in 2017, there was some type of relationship between the victim and the suspect,” said Diekhoff, “they knew each other somehow.”
And while Diekhoff said sexual assaults are always under-reported, these numbers do have a significant takeaway.
“I think an important headline is that more people are reporting,” said Diekhoff.
It’s something local advocacy groups are seeing as well.
“We had about 350 responses to sexual violence last year and I think the year prior was 218,” said Sarah Hunt, of Bloomington’s Middleway House, which helps victims of sexual assault.
Experts there though said it’s tough to know what is actually happening behind the numbers.
“I think immediately people think that maybe more sexual assault is taking place,” said Hunt, “but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, although it’s really hard to measure that.”
Hurt, however, does believe many victims these days feel more empowered to seek out some kind of help.
“I do think in our current culture, perhaps with the ‘Me Too’ movement and things like that, more people are perhaps more comfortable calling middle way house,” said Hunt .
Something important to note with these numbers is that they are only the rape incidents reported to Bloomington police and do not include the numbers reported to the Indiana University Police Department or the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.