Sexual Assault Hotline Receives Most Callers Ever Following Christine Blasey Ford Testimony

The National Sexual Assault Hotline has announced that they have recorded the busiest day in the hotline’s existence on Friday, in the aftermath of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee over her allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Donald Trump’s nominee has absolutely denied the allegation, which Ford claims occurred when Kavanaugh and herself were both high school students, according to reports from WBUR.

On that day the hotline, which is operated by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), received a 738 percent jump in callers — topping out at more than 3,000 calls. The average number of calls that the hotline has received in September was 950 each day, according to reports from Mashable.

“History shows us that when high-profile allegations such as these are in the news it often causes others to reach out too. This story has clearly resonated with survivors, and has led thousands to reach out for help for the first time,” said a statement released by RAINN president Scott Berkowitz. “Over this past year, following the cases of Weinstein and Cosby and the explosion of #MeToo, our numbers have been growing pretty rapidly, but we’ve never seen anything like this before.”

The amount of calls reached record numbers on the days surrounding the testimony as well. Thursday, the day Ford spoke in front of the committee, saw a 147 percent jump in calls to the hotline. During the entire weekend, RAINN saw a 338 percent rise in traffic — a massive jump considering the nature of sexual assault cases to frequently go unreported.

Local hotlines across the United States saw a similar jump in callers reporting their sexual assaults, including the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Rape Crisis Hotline, which saw the number of callers triple their usual frequency after Ford made her testimony.

Anne Pezzillo, the director of counseling services at the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago — which runs three rape crisis centers in the city — told WBUR,“We had a caller tell us that they had their first flashback in three years, after listening to Dr. Ford’s testimony.”

As the numbers of survivors calling the hotline jumped, waves of support for Ford and others who have gone through similar experiences poured out both on social media and through public demonstrations. According to the Mashable report, Twitter saw the hashtags #WeBelieveSurvivors, #CancelKavanaugh, and #BelieveChristine trend over the weekend. Thousands of individuals took to the streets of America’s biggest cities, all dressed in black with “I BELIEVE” written on their hands.

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