June 23, 2021

Fast Facts About Sexual Abuse in Arkansas

The “
Justice for Vulnerable Victims Of Sexual Abuse Act” will give victims of childhood sexual assault a chance at closure while simultaneously shining a light on a state that has a troubled history with sexual assault.
Here are some quick facts to bring you up to speed on the dangers victims face in Arkansas.

  1. Arkansas has the second-highest rape rate per capita in the country. The World Population Review notes that in 2019, 77.2 rapes were reported in Arkansas per 100,000 residents. It narrowly topped South Dakota, which reported 76.7 rapes per 100,000 residents, but both were dwarfed by Alaska and its genuinely frightening tally: 148.7 rapes per 100,000 people.
  2. The numbers keep climbing. Almost as alarming as Arkansas’ rape statistics are their trajectory: the 2019 numbers noted in the World Population Review are four points higher than they were in 2018.
  3. Human trafficking is on the rise. According to a 2019 article in the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service, 812 reports of human trafficking were received in Arkansas between 2007 and 2017, which lead to 203 cases filed. At least 145 reports were filed in 2019 alone, marking a notable increase.
  4. A high poverty rate translates to a lack of resources for sexual assault victims. That same journal article noted that 19 of the state’s 75 counties have a poverty rate of 25 percent or greater, which ultimately means fewer programs and fewer options for victims. A survey conducted by the National Census of Domestic Violence Services found that in one 24-hour period in 2017, support programs in Arkansas fielded 212 calls from victims, 150 of which were requests for services — shelter, transportation, childcare, legal representation, etc. — that could not be provided “because programs lacked the resources to meet the survivor’s needs.
  5. New laws add hurdles for pregnant rape victims. Pregnant victims that don’t want to carry their rapist’s child will face new challenges in Arkansas. In March, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure that only permits abortions when the mother’s life is in danger, with no exceptions for rape victims. A separate measure he signed off on in April appears to create a carve-out, albeit a heavily restrictive one: rape victims would first have to report the assault to police before they could receive an abortion after the state’s limit of 20 weeks.

Despite these appalling figures, resources do exist in Arkansas for victims of sexual assault. The Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault has 19 crisis centers in the state that victims can turn to for aid. The NWA Center for Sexual Assault based in Springdale also provides services to victims. And if the victim is a child, keep an eye out for these behaviors.

Latest Article

Three survivors of childhood sexual assault describe their abuse at the hands of one man, and their attempts to move past their harrowing experiences.

Read – Innocence Lost: Surviving Sam Otts and His Dark Legacy

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Josh Gillispie