WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Lakisha Davis had her life changed forever when she was only 5 years old. She was raped by her cousin in 1984.
Now 44, Davis has spent her adult life connecting with those who have been sexually abused.
The District has seen an uptick in cases this year. 41 cases have been reported so far this year — compared with 20 last year at this time.
Davis said she was not surprised by this trend.
“People are starting to hear other people’s stories, such as myself, and they’re feeling courageous,” she said. “They’re feeling like now is my time because I’ve spoken with people who have held this secret in for 20 years, 30 years and have never told a soul.”
Davis now seeks out women and men who have been sexually abused to help guide them through their lifelong trauma. She said she met 15 people in the last few months who have been sexually abused.
“There was a 51-year-old woman who was raped in southeast DC at a bus stop,” she said. “A man grabbed her and raped her in the woods and she was screaming for help and no one helped her.”
That’s when Davis reached out to the woman.
“So when I heard of the case I went to her home and tried to aid her,” she said.
Metropolitan Police Department officials declined a formal interview about the spike in numbers, but a spokeswoman said that “we suspect that it coincides with everything being fully open in 2023 compared to a somewhat-pandemic posture compared to this time in 2022.”
The spokeswoman added, “We are actively investigating each of these cases to ensure they are brought to a swift closure.”
Davis was raised by a single father, whose nephew raped Davis and went to prison for it. Davis also wrote a book to help her deal with the grief and assist others, she said.
“I’m very candid about it because I need people to understand the side effects,” she said. “You have to deal with your hormones and your impulsive or erratic behavior or just feeling fearful.”
Queenafi Gaston provides support through her nonprofit organization for those who deal with sexual assaults through domestic violence in DC.
“I know I’m out here advocating for us to take this seriously,” Gaston said. “Our young girls are being touched. We have to believe them. We have to investigate. We have to see the process all the way through.”
Her advice to victims?
“Immediately go to the hospital. Immediately get the case reported and start the process because it’s happening,” Gaston said. “Victims go on years and years and years having being victims of sexual abuse. I think more women could be coming to the table and saying, look, I’m reporting this.”
Davis also sees reasons for the higher sex abuse cases.
“People are isolated. People are trapped in the house,” Davis said. “People are drinking more. People are engaging in things that they weren’t before.”