Experts Explain Why Tulsa's Rape Numbers for 2013 are Higher than Recent Years

Tulsa Police and Domestic Violence Intervention Services released Tulsa's number of investigated rape cases for 2013. It is higher than both 2012 and 2011.

Tulsa Police report there were 330 rape cases in 2013. 316 of those were forced rapes and 14 were attempted rapes. There were 280 rapes in 2012 and 241 in 2011.

Sergeant Mark Mears with Tulsa Police Sex Crimes Unit said investigators believe there might have been an increase in actual rapes. However, there are other possible reasons why the number is higher.

"Another contributing factor is that for years, since 1927, the FBI had not updated the definition of rape in the uniform crime codes," Mears said. That definition is the one police use to report data to the federal government. That definition assumed rape could only happen to women and it did not count sexual assaults between spouses.

Mears said the modern definition changes that. It changed in 2012. He said Tulsa Police's 2013 numbers reflect the changes.

"Nobody wants to see rape numbers go up or any crime numbers go up. However, we do see some positives. One is that the definition is where it should be. We do have, we believe, more people reporting the crime," Mears said.

Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS) Associate Director Donna Mathews agrees. She said the prior definition was "archaic" and that the numbers might mean more victims are willing to come forward.

She said the public ought to stop stigmatizing sexual assaults.

"Obviously, you don't treat a burglary victim by asking them why did they have their big screen TV visible from their front window," Mathews said.

Experts said most rape in Tulsa is between acquaintances, but it is still important to be vigilant around town.

Police said there have been 12 rapes in Tulsa so far this year. Police said numbers are generally lower in the winter, because fewer people are outside. At this time last year, there were 14 rapes in Tulsa.

DVIS has a 24-hour crisis hotline. It is 918.7HELP.ME (918-743-5763)