A North Texas woman, who was subject to sexual assault, wants the world to know that she is no longer a victim and let women know that there are organizations that can help.
Sheila Mitchell describes her ordeal as if it were yesterday.
“It was on a summer night," Mitchell said. "I was acquainted with two of the individuals. They told me that they were going to take me to my boyfriend, and I trusted them. I got in the car.”
What happened next changed her life forever.
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“I ended up at a house I did not know, in the basement. I was gang raped.”
That is the kind of story counselors at the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center said they hear more often at this time of year.
“We now have enough statistics to show us when our busy time of year is, and it does increase from May until about October,” said Bobbie Villareal, DARCC’s executive director.
In April of last year, the center took in 14 new victims. In May, the number jumped to 24. June was even worse, with 29 victims.
Going back to 2010 when DARCC opened, the summer month-to-month trend is similar.
“We do know that a busy time is coming,” Villareal said.
Villareal said there are many reasons why assault cases rise during summer months.
The “spring forward” time change means that it stays dark longer in the morning, leaving women who have to be at work early especially vulnerable. Warmer weather brings both potential victims and their attackers outside. Searing summer days tend to be safer.
“We like really, really hot days because people tend not to go outside,” Villareal said.
But later in the summer, young women return to college campuses, where recent studies show one in five will be sexually assaulted sometime during their college careers.
As North Texans head into a dangerous season, Mitchell doesn’t want any woman to live her nightmare.
“There were some dark days, some dark hours, some dark years," Mitchell said. "The aftermath of rape is so, so brutal on the inside.”
But Mitchell also wants the world to know that with the help of DARCC, she is whole again. “I was a victim or survivor. Now I’m a thriver.”
For anyone interested in volunteering with the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, or if you are in need of their assistance, please contact the center at 972-641-7273.