Local YWCA reports surge in sexual assault victims seeking help in light of recent headlines

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OKLAHOMA CITY - In the midst of the political fire sparked this week by the Kavanaugh-Ford hearing, it's been an emotional time for many victims of sexual assault.

RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, is reporting a more than 200-percent increase in calls to their hotline.

Locally, victims advocates at the YWCA are reporting an increase in calls too . Organizers say that it isn’t just this week, but calls have been increasing over the  past few months with the “Me too” and “Times up” movements.

"People are just feeling more comfortable. They now have a platform to where they feel like they can be heard," said Elizabeth Stoverink.

For some, it has made them feel more comfortable knowing others can relate to them. For others, the public discussions have brought up horrible memories they never want to relive again.

Many people question why it takes so long for victims to come forward, but experts say it can come down to neuroscience.

“We’re kicked into that fight, flight or freeze response and so it’s not an active choice that we are making to not remember or our memories are fragmented,” said YWCA victims’ advocate director Elizabeth Stoverink. “I may not know until 30 years when something triggers me or I hear a sound or I taste something that reminds me of that event and then they all come back in flashbacks.”

She says some victims don't want to go through the legal process, but says they don't have to if they are over the age of 18.

"It may look a little bit different, but we support survivors no matter what it is that they're wanting," she said.

Stoverink says no matter the circumstances, it's important to get help.

"Please reach out to someone that you trust so you can get that help that you want, that you need. That's so beneficial because we're here for you," she said.

The YWCA of Oklahoma City encourages any and all victims to give them a call at their local hotline at (405) 943-7273.

They will provide free help to anyone who needs it.

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