South Dakota sees decrease in sexual offense arrests causing concern for experts

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 6:29 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - South Dakota saw 59 arrests for sexual assaults made in 2020, which is a nearly 40% drop from 2019. The numbers may appear encouraging, but some experts believe it is masking a larger problem.

“We don’t believe that the actual rates of sexual violence dropped. We believe that there were a lot of barriers for victims to talk about things,” Michelle Trent said, the executive director for The Compass Center.

The Compass Center is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping to navigate the journey to healing for victims of sexual assaults and other forms of similar trauma. Their mission is to ensure that all victims have a voice.

“To let them know that they’re not alone, that we’re here for them,” Trent said.

Organizers at The Compass Center believe that the pandemic may have created additional barriers for victims.

“You have people who are at home so they may be being abused by someone who is a loved one and also trapped in their home with them,” Trent said.

“We’ve had victims tell us, I know the doctors and nurses we’re really overtaxed because of COVID so I didn’t want to add another burden on top of them,” Trent said.

Trent encourages victims to still seek help even if they wish not to report the incident, and there are several organizers that are available to help.

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