TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — New numbers from the state’s top law agency show a startling trend. Reports of rape increased across Florida in 2018 by more than six percent.
It caps six years of an increase in reported rapes — with 2018 being the single highest increase during the period, according to data provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
“I see it as something not necessarily to be concerned about,” said Jennifer Dritt, the executive director of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence Director. “But, to be mindful of.”
It may seem counter intuitive, but Dritt thinks the numbers suggest something good is happening in Florida and across the nation. Simply put — more victims are reporting sexual assaults to police.
Rape has historically been under reported. Survivors sometimes feel ashamed or scared to give up their attacker, who often is someone they know.
A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics survey suggested only 23 percent of rapes or sex assaults in 2016 were reported to police. But, the number grew to 40 percent a year later.
“People are reporting more,” Dritt said. “Law enforcement is taking it seriously. It doesn’t necessarily mean sexual assault is on the increase.”
The FDLE data did suggest that murders were on the rise in the state, up four-point-seven percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Officials noted that the school shooting in Parkland accounted for some of that increase.
Florida’s overall crime rate dropped nine percent last year. The head of FDLE commended officers in a statement about the data. The commissioner saying the overall drop reflects their “outstanding work.”