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Waitlist at Sexual Assault Center grows in Nashville, Clarksville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - People seeking professional mental health help at the Sexual Assault Center may have to wait more than two months before help is received.  

There are 80 men, women and children waiting to see a therapist at the center in Nashville and 50 people waiting in Clarksville. 

There were 303 rapes reported to Metro police from January 1 to July 14 this year. For the same time period last year, there were 290 rapes reported. In Clarksville, there have been 26 rapes reported to Clarksville police. Last year there were 30 reports.  

The Sexual Assault Center is the only place in Middle Tennessee exclusively dedicated to helping victims of sexual assault. The center says its waitlist correlates with the number of rape survivors coming forward. 

"Survivors feel believed and they know there are places they can go and speak about what happened and be safe," said the Vice President of Programs, Mary Beth Heaney-Gárate. "I definitely think more people are coming forward and reporting their experiences. I don't think there's more sexual abuse or assault going on." 

The Sexual Assault Center says it was getting three to four calls a month at this time last year. It's currently averaging two to three calls a week. Most people want help navigating the criminal justice system, while others want to speak with a therapist. 

"I wish we had 100 therapists, and I believe if we had 100 therapists they would all have full caseloads," said Heaney-Gárate. "I hope we can increase our capacity, so we don't have 100 people on the waitlist. That's going to take support." 

Any victim can receive therapy through the center regardless of their ability to pay. The center funds it through grants and donations.  

The center has increased its therapy staff from 12 to 19 this year.  

The Sexual Assault Center does not turn away any victim in crisis. You can call their 24/7 hotline for help at 1-800-879-1999

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