One unusual fact about the Duke Univeristy lacrosse team rape llegations was that a black woman had reported the alleged incident at all, says the Washington Post. Thirteen out of 14 black women who are sexually assaulted do not tell police, federal statistics show. The rate in the overall population is 42 percent, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. The only Justice Department-funded study to evaluate black women’s experiences with sexual assault is to be finished this month at the University of Maryland.
Since 2000, the Women of Color Network has worked to support Maryland victims of sexual assault and to shape policy on the issue. Carolyn West, a psychologist and author of “Violence in the Lives of Black Women: Battered, Black, and Blue,” says that, “There was that belief that black women were unrapable. Legally, it wasn’t a crime to rape black women, literally for hundreds of years.” Hotlines are often the first place rapes are disclosed. In 2004, 1,316 forcible rapes were reported to Maryland law enforcement agencies. The same year, 12,604 calls were placed to 18 hotlines.