Adult entertainment clubs could help fund sexual assault survivor counseling

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The number of sexual assault victims in Indiana is on the rise as the money needed to help them is dwindling. The state of Indiana may turn to an unusual source for funding.

The words that come off the page are haunting. A letter was written by a young girl who endured years of sexual abuse that ended when she was 12 years old. Help for the author of this letter and others like her is in short supply.

"Even if they did not have the funds, they wouldn't stop doing the services. But I think it is going to be very, very hard to continue to distribute the number of services that we need for the amount of clients that are walking in the door," said Brittany Winebar, Prevail for Victims of Crime and Abuse.

Sexual assaults on Indiana teenagers has increased 300 percent in the past five years. The numbers are so high that professional counselors say sexual assault is at epidemic level even though funding to help the victims and their families has gone in the opposite direction.

"The federal funding has really cut out a lot of that population, specifically for SOS funding. They only serve victims that are 12 and older in that funding, so under 12 do not receive any federal funding," said Winebar.

There are 30 rape crisis centers to serve all 92 Indiana counties. Many of them are partially funded by Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault. INCASA has proposed that lawmakers add a $5 fee to everyone that goes to adult entertainment clubs.

"Most of our youth services - which cover sexual assault services and secondary victims - is covered through a family foundation," said Winebar.

Crisis centers like Prevail in Noblesville have not scaled back services, but they are looking for new money now that federal grant money is drying up. And that has nothing to do with the federal sequester.

If the adult entertainment fee is passed by lawmakers, it could raise several million dollars a year. Currently the only money from the state comes from Sexual Assault Victims Assistance Fund that provided $25,000 last year to rape crisis centers.

Victim compensation in Indiana