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Valley crisis center raises awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence

From July of 2020 to early June 2021, Balac said the Collins Center has served 400 victims; 164 of which were children.
Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 9:25 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia State Police released their annual crime report earlier this week. The report compiles statistics of what crimes happened across the Commonwealth, including sexual violence.

The Collins Center in Harrisonburg is a sexual assault crisis reporting agency and child advocacy center that helps sexual violence victims.

They work with the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, law enforcement, and child protective services.

Jessica Balac, Outreach and Prevention Coordinator for the Collins Center, said these types of crimes often go unreported for many reasons.

“It has a lot to do with the network of support that they would anticipate they would or would not receive and just sort of what the response to them stepping forward would be,” Balac said.

Balac said the fear of not being believed is one of the biggest reasons a victim will not step forward. She added that a lot of the time victims know their offenders.

She said some other reasons are the fear of being blamed or retaliated against, lack of faith in the justice system, and having trouble remembering details, which she said is an effect of trauma.

“Many people tell their networks first before they would report to law enforcement so if they are getting that response from people they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh this is how my supportive network is even reacting to me. I’m not being believed. I’m even being blamed here and cut out of my friend group or my family group, etc. then I can’t go to law enforcement because what if they don’t believe me?’” Balac said.

Balac said for some, reporting is also just not what they wish to do.

From July of 2020 to early June 2021, Balac said the center has served 400 victims; 164 of which were children.

Balac said the best thing to do to help victims is to believe their stories and support them.

The goal at the Collins Center is to eliminate sexual violence in the community. You can find resources on sexual violence here and here.

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