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Advocates say many sexual abuse victims are afraid to report incidents to authorities

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Every 98 seconds a man or woman is sexually assaulted in the US, according to the 'Rape Abuse and Incest National Network'.

In Escambia County, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported more than 200 rape cases last year.

Monday morning, an alleged kidnapping was caught on surveillance video.


In the footage, you can see an unconscious woman is being carried by a man.

Pensacola Police said the victim was then sexually assaulted in the man's car.

Alicia Cambron is the Assistant Director of Wellness Services at UWF.

She said the woman may have prevented others from becoming victims, by reporting the crime to police.

"I think it's great that she reported it because often times women or men are not coming forward, because they're scared they won't be believed," said Cambron.

The suspect, Corey Hill, was arrested and taken off the streets three days after.

Police said Hill stalked the woman for about two hours in downtown Pensacola, before kidnapping and raping her.

Cambron said many victims are hesitant to report their stories, especially if alcohol was involved.

"Often times the victim is blamed. 'Well you shouldn't have drank so much, or you shouldn't have been by yourself' are some things we hear in society," she said.

Cambron also works with students, teaching them tools they can use to prevent these crimes.

One is called the 'Distract, Delegate and Direct' method.

"Distract is to get the person away from the situation," said UWF student Ashley Sepessy. "Being direct is going up to the person and saying 'Hey, this is not ok. Come with me, I don't feel comfortable with you'. Delegate is to get someone else to do it."

Cambron said the key is keeping an open dialogue in society, so victims know they can report abuse and that they aren't alone.

"If you're comfortable, tell someone. Tell anyone. You can report it anonymously if you need to. Just so we can know this happened so we can try to stop it from happening again," said Cambron.

UWF offers free counseling for students.

Free resources, including a 24-hour helpline and therapy, are also offered for sexual assault victims at Lakeview Centers across Northwest Florida.

You can learn more about the services offered at Lakeview Centers here: https://elakeviewcenter.org/BehavioralHealth/SpecialtyServices/victim-services

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