"Emergency department visits related to sexual assault increased more than tenfold over a span of 13 years, according to a new study that experts and advocates say reflects a growing cultural shift around confronting sexual assault.
The research, published Thursday in JAMA Network Open, showed that those visits increased 1,533% from 2006 to 2019 — a jump from 3,600 annual visits to 55,200.
The largest increase occurred between 2015 and 2016, when visits went from about 17,700 to 47,700, according to the findings.
The study authors said their research represents the largest longitudinal study of sexual assault-related visits to emergency rooms in the U.S. The analysis relied on federal data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which tracks emergency department visits, as well as the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which compiles data from 18,000 law enforcement agencies.
Keme Carter, an emergency physician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago who has researched the medical treatment of sexual assault victims, said she, too, thinks the new research 'is and will continue to be a landmark study.'
The authors speculated that a combination of factors drove the trend: an increased number of sexual assaults, population growth and awareness-raising social movements like #MeToo.
'We’ve moved a long way, thankfully, in the acknowledgement that any time there’s non-consensual sexual activity, that is sexual assault,' said study co-author Erica Marsh, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan Medical School."