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National Sexual Assault Hotline Wait Times Are “Unprecedented" Because Of The Kavanaugh Hearing

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) said it had seen a jump of 147% in the number of calls after Christine Blasey Ford testified.

Last updated on September 28, 2018, at 12:20 p.m. ET

Posted on September 27, 2018, at 6:58 p.m. ET

Pool / Getty Images

Americans were riveted by Thursday’s Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — and an unprecedented number of people who’d experienced assaults found themselves in need of support.

RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) expected to see a spike in the number of people turning to its National Sexual Assault Hotline. Its hotline — which offers free, confidential assistance via phone and online chat — regularly gets extra traffic when high-profile cases of sexual assault are in the news.

But on Thursday, RAINN said the numbers of people seeking help were “unprecedented” — a jump of 147%, spokesperson Sara McGovern told BuzzFeed News.

On Friday, RAINN released an updated tally and said the number of people helped by the hotline on Thursday was 201% above average.

We are experiencing unprecedented wait times for our online chat. If you are able, we encourage you to call 800.656.HOPE (4673) or reach out via chat tomorrow. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

In a tweet, the group directed people in need to its phone line, or suggested waiting until tomorrow to try the chat line.

At one point Thursday, there were 36 people waiting for help via chat.

“If you are in immediate danger, call 911,” RAINN said.

RAINN / Via Twitter: @RAINN

Last Friday and Saturday, when members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were finalizing plans for the hearing, RAINN saw a 42% spike in inquiries from a typical Friday and Saturday. That’s in line with the demand the group faced in the first days of the #MeToo movement’s explosion following the New York Times and New Yorker’s reports on Harvey Weinstein.

“Remember to take care of yourself during these times,” RAINN tweeted as it shared resources for survivors.

Hearing about sexual violence in the media and online can be very difficult for survivors and their loved ones. Remember to take care of yourself during these times. Below is a thread of resources:

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is at 800-656-4673. More resources are available at


This story has been updated with the number RAINN released on Friday saying calls were up 201%.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.