Sexual Assaults Down In NJ, Majority Still Go Unreported [AUDIO]
"54% of rapes today are not reported to authorities" according to Scott Berkowitz, President of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN.)
He said while the number of reported and attempted rapes in New Jersey has dropped, from 1,277 in 2001 to 985 in 2010, the numbers hide a much larger problem.
"We have no idea of really knowing how many people are actually sexually assaulted or raped every year because people are still scared to come forward."
That reason has evolved over the years.
"A few years ago men and women were hesitant to tell someone because they feared no one would believe them. I think we have moved past that fear, but now a lot of victims simply don't want to speak up because they don't want to relive the trauma over and over again. They might also be afraid to tell a friend or family member because they are nervous about what their reaction might be" said Berkowitz.
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
"What we are trying to do throughout this month is educate the public about how common a crime this still is today."
Berkowitz said, unfortunately, there is no one way to increase the reporting of rapes and sexual assault.
"Educational campaigns that assure victims they're not at fault do help, in addition to support from law enforcement."
While today's society has become more accepting of the fact that these crimes do occur, "It will be a challenge to continue to assure victims that it was not their fault, which should lead to an increase in reported cases."
The National Sexual Assault Hotline is (800)-656-HOPE.