A U.S. sexual assault helpline says it saw a 147 per cent spike in calls during Christine Blasey Ford‘s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Blasey Ford was testifying before the committee over allegations that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago, when they were in high school.
The professor’s hearing, which was followed by a testimony by Kavanaugh, led to a significant spike in individuals calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, which oversees the helpline, said the 147 per cent surge is based on the average number of calls it takes on a Thursday.
It tweeted Thursday that it was experiencing “unprecedented wait times.”
The organization told Time magazine that it often sees surges in calls when sexual assault or harassment appears in the news.
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It noted another uptick that occurred in October 2016 following the release of Access Hollywood types, in which Donald Trump said “grab ’em by the p—y.”
But that increase in calls, at 33 per cent, was nowhere close to the surge seen during Kavanaugh hearings.
And it is not just Thursday’s hearing. The organization said the increase in calls has been occurring since Blasey Ford came forward with the allegations earlier this month.
Several sexual assault survivors also spoke out about their experiences on TV, with so many viewers calling into C-SPAN that the phone lines were jammed.
Callers recounted experiences of sexual assault, explaining why Blasey Ford’s case is so powerful for them.
“I just wanted to call in for the other women out there who are listening,” the woman caller said, according to Politico.
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“It does not make you less credible because you come out 17 years later. It can take a lot of time to process these things that happen to you when you are underage, and cannot comprehend what is happening, or how it affects you down the road.”
Another woman from Kentucky said: “I was a victim at 11 years old, OK? I will tell you, I do remember where, when and how. When you are sexually assaulted, you never forget.”
Meaghan Peckham, a Toronto-based therapist, told Global News that constant news concerning sexual assault can be difficult for survivors to cope with.
“More woman than not have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime or will, so many people are triggered by the news or social media,” Peckham explained.
She pointed to some solutions or things that may help.
“They need to take care of themselves, so that might mean unplugging, disconnecting or unfollowing certain news sources.”
Peckham added that reaching out to a therapist, counsellor, sexual assault and domestic violence care centres can help.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911. For mental health programs and services around Canada, please refer to the list here.