Counselors fear increase in sexual assaults as tourist season begins

Counselors fear more sexual assaults
Photo Source: MGN Online
Photo Source: MGN Online

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As spring hits the Grand Strand, one group says they're approaching the season with a sense of alarm. Sexual assault counselors in the city say they see spikes in crisis calls as soon as larger crowds come to town.

"Our numbers here at the center tend to increase dramatically in April once Spring Break starts," said Rape Crisis Center Counselor Jacquie Campman.

Campman said calls stay fairly steady throughout the summer, with larger populations hitting the beach. She said they see the heaviest concentration of calls in areas like Myrtle Beach, Garden City, North Myrtle Beach, and Conway.

The most alarming part though, Campman said, is that many sexual assaults in the county are not reported to police.

"A lot of times reporting and going through the legal process is emotionally draining in itself," she said.

National studies by groups like US Department of Justice show 63% of sexual assaults and rapes are never reported. In 2012 alone, 42 sexual assaults and rapes were reported to Myrtle Beach Police. Using the national statistics, that means a more realistic number of assaults and rapes in the city limits could be closer to 68 or 70.

"I didn't deserve it," said one victim of sexual assault. "I got attacked on the beach. I was doing everything I was supposed to."

This unnamed victim was sunning herself on the beach last summer when she claims a man assaulted her. She continued her report with police, resulting in the suspect's arrest, but says six other victims chose not to follow through.

"In the end, I'm only one that went through the court and continued the process."

No victim of rape or sexual assault is to blame for the crime perpetrated against them, but this victim says the stigma of reporting an assault has to stop.

"How can the community fix something if they don't report it?"

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