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SEEKING SUPPORT?
The Alliance has compiled a number of resources available for survivors, their friends and families, and professionals assisting survivors in New York City.

Policy Priority: Statistics

As everyone working against sexual violence knows, rape is a grossly underreported crime. In fact, it is estimated that less than 20% of victims ever report being assaulted. While it should then not be surprising that 890 rapes were reported to the New York City Police Department in 2008, for a city of over 8 million people, such numbers remain extremely disturbing. Nevertheless, NYPD statistics are the only regular documentation of sexual assault in New York City.

A particular area of concern is the lack of information on victims seeking help at New York City’s hospitals. While SPARCS (the Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System) should in theory collect this data – and does indeed include a code for sexual assault – these statistics, too, would lead one to believe that nearly no one in New York seeks medical assistance for sexual violence. Improving SPARCS data may be an initiative far outside the scope of the Alliance’s capabilities, as it involves hospital coding culture as it relates to an international system of over 8,000 codes. Thus, alternate avenues for collecting hospital data must be pursued.

Overall, whether police data or hospital stats, the dearth of actual figures is astounding. Along with shifting the language surrounding violence against women in order to address sexual assault as a public health issue and integrate sexual violence issues into primary care, population based surveys – particularly when in conjunction with other health-based surveys – may capture the spectrum of violence to the fullest. For general statistics, this may be the most fruitful method to collect needed information.

In the meantime, the Alliance will specifically identify what data exists and provide this information on the Alliance website as a baseline start.

Actions

  • Create a central source of information for local statistics on sexual violence that will identify what information exists and what is required.
  • See what data is available for New York City, and learn about the knowledge gaps.
  • Advocate for population based surveys
  • Advocate for collection of hospital data – whether proper coding of SPARCS, enforcement of Local Law 6-125 , or population based health surveys which incorporate questions of sexual violence



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Manhattan Borough President Stringer with Denim Day supporters
Manhattan Borough President Stringer with Denim Day supporters