Rape advocate hopes recent Horry County case won't discourage su - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Rape advocate hopes recent Horry County case won't discourage survivors from coming forward

After Horry County Police charged Taffy Wheeler for filing a false police report for reportedly lying about being raped, one advocate is worried about how this case could make survivors stay silent about their attacks.

"It was disappointing, and I just ultimately don't want victims to not come forward," Karly Buckley with the Horry County Rape Crisis Center said. "I just want them to know to have the support within our agency, and we're here to help them."

In one of the most vulnerable situations of their lives, rape victims are having to share intimate details and go through invasive procedures to report their attacks.

"I think that it can be very scary in that situation, if you go to the hospital, if you have to get interviewed by law enforcement," Buckley said. "It's just a very scary situation overall for the victim...they want to feel believed. They want to know that they have support."

Officials say cases like Taffy Wheeler's could keep survivors silent. She originally told police she was out for a walk in Surfside Beach when she was attacked and sexually assaulted by four men. But just days later, she took all of that back, telling police she made the whole story up.

"Just in January we had 8 or 9 hospital calls," Buckley said. "That is a lot to start the beginning of the year. It's worrisome because you don't want the victims to feel like they cannot come forward."

It's a decision that's hard to make. Some rape victims waiting years before they tell their stories.

"Whether its a sexual assault that just happened or if it's something that happened in childhood...I mean there's people that don't come out until 10 or 20 years after and say they've been assaulted," Buckley said.

Advocates say they hope survivors disregard this latest case and know that there are agencies out there that will support them in whatever way they need.

"It can be difficult because I don't want victims to not come forward and report," Buckley said. "I hope it doesn't encourage them to not report because it is something that is such an important thing to come forward whether they report it to law enforcement or not, or whether they just want to go to the hospital. It's just such an excruciating crime that happens so often."

If you're a victim of sexual assault and need help, you can contact the Horry and Georgetown County Rape Crisis Centers at the numbers listed below.

Horry County: 843-448-7273
Georgetown County: 843-545-5198

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