Last week, the FBI released crime statistics for each state. While DC’s rate for homicide and violent crime on the whole decreased, the rate of forcible rape increased, up to 187 from 2009’s 150. This 24.7% increase is the highest of any state (cities are not documented), with the second highest increase being an 8.9% rise in Nebraska. As a whole, the nation’s forcible rape rate went down 5% last year.
Clearly, these numbers point to the urgent need in our community to address sexual assault. In 2010, the District Alliance for Safe Housing decided to add sexual assault survivors to those for whom it provided service. Domestic violence and sexual assault are often interrelated. Many survivors are assaulted within intimate partner relationships. Additionally, many of those who survive a sexual assault also face the potential for homelessness, especially if the assault occurred in the survivor’s home or the assailant learns the victims’ address. In these situations, it is imperative for victims to have safe housing, much like those escaping domestic violence.
DASH’s housing and services provide critical space and support for survivors of sexual violence to recover from the trauma of victimization and rebuild their lives on their own terms. While the path to healing may look somewhat different from domestic violence, the need for access to safe, affordable housing is a reality for survivors across the spectrum – whether recovering from domestic abuse, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, or other threat. Providing housing access to sexual assault survivors in our constituent base is yet another way in which DASH aims to be agile, responsive, and innovative in serving those impacted by violence.
Survivors of sexual assault in the District can also access these resources for support.