• Orlando Victim Service Center seeing increase in calls

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - The Victim Service Center in Orlando said it has seen an increase in the number of rapes reported to the center.

    Officials said the center typically receives an average of one call a weekend, but last weekend six calls were received.

    Officials said awareness about reporting rapes has spread in a big way. Nearly a dozen billboards have been put up around the region.

    Rachel Sines said she was a victim of sexual assault in 2007.

    "It was your worst nightmare. It wasn't anything I would wish on anybody," she told Channel 9.

    Sines gave Channel 9 permission to identify her, hoping to empower other victims. Court records show her attacker, Leighton Henry, is serving life in prison.

    "A lot of times there's a fear to come forward," she said.

    Advocates hope that's slowly changing, but they're also concerned about a recent spike.

    "We know in the summer months there's a little bit of an increase but not like this," said Executive Director Lui Damiani. "Not where you're seeing a 200 percent increase in one weekend."

    Damiani said it's hard to explain the spike, but he hopes the new billboard campaign is encouraging victims to call the hotline and seek help. The latest numbers from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show sex crimes in Orange and Osceola counties increased last year.

    "Reach out to us. Let our folks determine whether there's some way we can help you. Because, if there is, I assure you we'll do that," he said.

    Sines said she'll never forget what happened.

    "If I hadn't come out when I did, if I hadn't come out at all, I know he would've hurt somebody else," she said.

    Gov. Rick Scott recently signed a bill increasing the statute of limitations from four years to eight years.

    ORLANDO VICTIM SERVICE CENTER HOTLINE: 407-497-6701.

    Next Up: