Rapes are up in New York City. Training on how to treat victims, way down.

Erinn Robinson, of advocacy group RAINN, said many people are afraid to come forward during the pandemic, either because they’ve been quarantined with the person who harmed them or because they didn’t feel comfortable interacting with officers who made them sick could do. She added that people were also socializing less, reducing the likelihood of some assaults. FBI data shows that reported rapes have declined across the country, from 43.6 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 38.4 per 100,000 people in 2020.

But Robinson said many of the factors that prevented both attacks and reports have faded since the world began returning to normal.

“I think it makes sense that if people start interacting and dating again, that either cases of sexual violence, including rape, will increase,” she said.

Meanwhile, the NYPD grapples with allegations that its sex crimes unit is insensitive to survivors. The DOJ has received a sufficient number of complaints that it has launched an investigation to determine if there is a pattern of gender bias within the unit.

Gina Tron said that reflects her experience. She told Gothamist she didn’t want to go to the police after she was sexually assaulted by a stranger she met at a Park Slope bar in 2010. She said she was using drugs at the time and feared officers would judge her. But she was concerned that the person who attacked her would do the same to someone else. So she decided to report it.

“I went into a police station and they were really, really nice to me,” Tron said. “They said, ‘You know, it doesn’t matter what you do. That shouldn’t have happened to you.’”

Tron gradually became more comfortable until she sat down with a detective from the NYPD’s Victims’ Task Force, which investigates sex crimes.

“This guy just let out a sigh, a defeated sigh,” she said. “He’s like, ‘Ugh, what makes you think you were raped?'”

Tron said it felt like he didn’t want to be there. She said he told her it was a weak case that was going nowhere because she was on drugs.

“He really encouraged me to drop it,” she said. “And I didn’t want that.”

Tron decided to move on anyway. But she felt the police weren’t taking her case seriously, and she said the case was eventually dropped.

The NYPD said it is forbidden from revealing the identities of victims of sexual assault, but added that it takes cases of sexual assault and rape “extremely seriously.” The Brooklyn DA’s office said it could not comment on a closed case. RAINN’s Robinson said it’s important for officers to be sensitive when survivors choose to report these attacks and to understand that they experienced trauma.

“This is so important to encourage survivors to move forward with the criminal justice process and their healing,” she said. “It can just be so important to set the tone for this survivor’s healing.”

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