Chicago YWCA rape hotline sees rise in calls in 'Me Too' era

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The YWCA Metropolitan Chicago is evolving in the "Me Too" era, encouraging everyone to step up and do their part.

"We all have a role to play whether we are individuals, whether we are employees, employers, government leaders," said Dorri McWhorter, the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.

The YWCA has had a rape crisis hotline for years. From fiscal year 2017 to 2018 their calls have gone up 30 percent.

"We have noticed folks are having conversations less about their own healing journey and more about what they are seeing all around them that quite honestly is re-triggering events," McWhorter said.

Deborah Tuerkheimer, a research professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, says the conversation around sexual misconduct is changing in and out of the classroom

"This is an intense cultural moment. Sexual assault, sexual misconduct of all kinds are on people's minds in ways that are new and are different from what we have seen before," she said.

Tuerkheimer teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, evidence and feminist legal theory. She says she plans to watch Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.

"It seems to me that these senators need to decide whether Dr. Blasey Ford has made a credible allegation. It is a very serious misconduct that she is alleging," Tuerkheimer said.

As it play outs on Capitol Hill, those on the front lines of the battle against sexual assault say they're standing by ready to answer the calls for help.

"Our message to them has always been if it just happened or it happened a decade ago, please seek help," McWhorter said.

Operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Rape Crisis Hotlines provides survivors of sexual violence and their significant others immediate support, crisis intervention and referrals for the city of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Call 888-293-2080 in Chicago metropolitan area; 630-971-3927 in DuPage County; and 708-748-5672 in the South Suburbs. The volunteers and staff at the hotline have received extensive training in sexual assault crisis intervention. The hotline is also the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) affiliate for Chicago. For more information, visit the website.
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