A mother of two who survived a gruesome attack said more people in our area are reporting sexual assaults.
This doesn’t mean more people are being attacked, but instead more survivors are speaking up.
“It sticks with you forever,” mother Julie Weil said.
Weil survived one of every woman’s worst nightmares.
“ I was carjacked while buckling my kids in the car seat," she said. "That day I was raped four times in front of both my kids."
Weil's attacker is now behind bars, while she fights for other women and men motivating them to speak up.
“If you don't learn to deal with those emotions, it can haunt you decades into the future,” she said.
Weil runs a nonprofit called the “Not Just Me Foundation,” where she provides toothbrushes and a change of clothes for survivors who visit the Butterfly House, the county’s rape crisis center.
“You are taken to a safe space,” Weil said. "Just last year, 704 people reported being sexually assaulted in Palm Beach County. That’s an increase compared to 662 the year before,” Weil said. We attribute that in part to the 'Me Too' movement, how powerful that's been in getting people to come to term with what happened and feel comfortable speaking out and that their voices can be heard."
Weil believes the national movement is not just a trend or a hashtag. She thinks it’s here to stay and will continue encouraging victims to come forward.
“You see big people in Hollywood say hey I was in that very same innocent situation and it happened to me also you don't need to be ashamed," Weil said. "I think that really clicks with people and they say you know you are right the blame doesn't lie with me. It never lies with the victim it always lies with the perpetrator."
Experts said 85 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, which means there were likely 4,700 people sexually assaulted in Palm Beach County last year.