• Local center for domestic violence victims sees increase in services after #MeToo movement

    By: Amber Krycka , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A local center for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault says it has seen a huge increase in women seeking help. And it’s crediting the #MeToo movement.

    “As soon as I walked in the door they shut the door and locked it, and I was in that room for hours,” said Jenny, a survivor who shared her painful experience of when she was sexually assaulted.

    “It is kinda indescribable,” she said.

    Jenny struggled at first to get the help she needed. But, she was able to quickly realize she wasn’t alone.

    “I wanted so desperately to be free of it and be able to live a life where that didn’t define me. And there’s no reason that we have to be silent about it,” she said.

    And the silence was broken. A worldwide movement has proven there is strength in numbers.

    “We all basically said it’s about time,” said Joyce Mahr, chief executive officer of Betty Griffin Center.

    Mahr said she believes the rise of celebrities reporting incidents of assault over the last year has encouraged more local women to seek help.

    “They know people are going to believe them.  We have to start by believing,” Mahr said.

    Mahr said in the last year, they’ve seen a huge increase in people coming forward for sexual assault.

    So far this year, services for sexual assault and domestic violence increased by more than one-third over the same time period in 2017, with 15 rape exams performed.

    Calls to the center’s hotline are also up more than 30 percent. And the number of women and children saying at the center’s shelter increased by 54 percent.

    “People are feeling, individuals, survivors are feeling supported,” Mahr said.

    For Jenny, she said the services at Betty Griffin gave her hope – something she wants other survivors to experience.

    “Let me move forward, and not be haunted by something that happened to me a long time ago. I just don’t want women to give up on how different things can be. And it’s not your fault, whatever happened to you wasn’t your fault,” she said.

    For more information, visit: http://bettygriffincenter.org/    or call 904-808-8544

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