Mention sexual assault crimes, and visions of Hollywood moguls, TV personalities, national politicians, and sports figures might be the first images that form.
But the truth is, local law enforcement, social workers, and medical providers face victims of sexual assault on a routine basis in the Yates County community, and at least one of the professionals who works with victims admits a harsh truth. “The system doesn’t work in the victim’s favor. You don’t get anything out of reporting sexual assault,” says Jannine Phillips, client services coordinator at Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes.
On the national scene last week, comedian Bill Cosby was convicted by a jury of sexual assault, but it took two trials and the emotional sacrifices of victims who re-lived the painful experiences that changed their lives.
In the past seven months, this community has seen one victim of alleged sexual abuse die from a drug overdose, and another revealed on social media, and eventually on regional TV.
After nine years on the job at Safe Harbors, Phillips has seen all kinds of those situations, and she knows there are many more she and the other four staff and 15 volunteers have not seen. That’s because national statistics reveal that of 1,000 cases of sexual assault, just 310 are reported. Of those, 57 result in arrests, with felony charges arising from seven of those cases. Six of the accused will end up incarcerated. Fifteen out of 16 rapists will see no time in jail for their actions.