Helpline credits #MeToo with huge rise in sexual assault calls

Crime Victims Helpline published its 2017 annual report on Thursday

Michele Puckhaber, the helpline’s executive director, said the increase was likely down the #MeToo movement and other awareness campaigns.

Michele Puckhaber, the helpline’s executive director, said the increase was likely down the #MeToo movement and other awareness campaigns.

 

The #MeToo movement has been cited as a factor in a 150 per cent increase in the number of people contacting a national helpline in relation to sexual assault and domestic violence last year.

The Crime Victims Helpline published its 2017 annual report on Thursday, which detailed more than 4,455 contacts over phone, email, text and post from people seeking support and information.

In contrast to previous years, the helpline heard from more people regarding sexual assault and domestic violence.

It saw a 150 per cent increase in the number of people contacting the service due to domestic violence related crimes. The number of people contacting the service due to rape or sexual assault more than doubled.

Michele Puckhaber, the helpline’s executive director, said the increase was likely down the #MeToo movement and other awareness campaigns.

More than 70 women – mostly young actors and women in other aspects of the movie business – have accused the Miramax film studio co-founder Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, including rape, in a series of incidents dating back decades.

The accusations gave rise to the #MeToo movement, which has seen hundreds of women publicly accusing powerful men in business, government and entertainment of sexual harassment and abuse.

“We think a number of factors contributed to this change, such as the #MeToo movement and Cosc’s domestic violence awareness campaign, and it highlights how important it is that services work together,” Ms Puckhaber said.

“There is no wrong door for seeking help. After providing initial support and information we are able to then direct people to organisations that provide specialist services such as Women’s Aid; Rape Crisis Centre; or One in Four.”

More generally, the helpline received 1,886 incoming calls, which was a 10 per cent increase on the number of calls received in 2016. That jump arrived on the heels of a 40 per cent increase the previous year.

Similar to previous years, the most common crimes that service users were impacted by in 2017 were assault (31 per cent), harassment (24 per cent) and burglary (12 per cent).

Crime Victim Helpline chairman Steven Drew said dealing with the aftermath of crime beyond the legal and criminal justice system is “an integral, ongoing and largely unheralded part of the justice spectrum”.