SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — While the number of rape cases in California are on the rise, at the same time funding for programs to help victims is being drastically cut. But officials in the South Bay are doing something about it.
“At that very moment where we see demand is up, federal funding is questionable and state funding go down,” said Tanis Crosby, Director of the YWCA of Silicon Valley, an organization provides services and support for victims of rape.
In Santa Clara County, reported rape cases were up 20 percent between 2017 and 2018. So far in 2019, the number of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams — known as SAFE exams — is up 35 percent from the same time last year.
But last May, the state failed to renew $5 million in one-time funding for rape crisis centers all over California which would mean cuts to victim services.
“These are violent, vile, horrible crimes,” said Cindy Chavez, a member of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
On Tuesday, supervisors approved spending $600,000 to help restore victim services at the YWCA and Community Solutions in South County.
“We want to make sure that people can get to a sexual assault response team as quickly as possible and that they have an advocate and that’s what this money is for to make sure they are getting the counseling and all the other services they need,” Chavez said.
The YWCA says it’s working to establish more reliable funding for services which, ironically, is required by the state.
In the meantime, Santa Clara County is also building two new SAFE medical exam centers in Palo Alto and Gilroy in addition to one at Valley Medical in San Jose. Those centers will allow victims to be examined more quickly.
“We’re going to make certain that survivors of sexual assault have the services they need,” Crosby said.
The YWCA maintains a confidential crisis line at 1-800 572-2782, where victims of sexual assault can get advice 24/7.
Victims can also get connected to resources at www.safechatsv.org