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High-profile sex assault cases fuel discussion, can help victims to speak up

From the latest case at Stanford University to those involving Jerry Sandusky right here in Pennsylvania, it isn't easy to take in. But local rape awareness advocates say these high-profile cases leading the nightly news are having quite the silver lining.

Sexual assault and rape, sadly, flood the news.

From the latest case at Stanford University to those involving Jerry Sandusky right here in Pennsylvania, it isn't easy to take in. But local rape awareness advocates say these high-profile cases leading the nightly news are having quite the silver lining.

"What we are seeing is an increase of willingness of people to talk about this issue," Rhonda Hendrickson with YWCA of Greater Harrisburg said.

In California, a judge recently handed a man what has been decried as a short prison sentence for raping an unconscious girl after a frat party.

Brock Turner was spotted by two graduate students raping the woman. He says that she consented, but he was found guilty of the crime. Prosecutors asked for six years in prison, but Turner only got six months, leaving many outraged across the country.

READ: Woman pens letter to ex-Stanford swimmer who raped her

This comes not long after Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on dozens of child abuse charges.

"I believe, post the Jerry Sandusky era, people are realizing that it takes a community to address these issues," Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson says she's seeing not only the discussion of sexual assault increasing, but also the number of victims coming forward going up.

"We have seen during the post Jerry Sandusky era the number of males who are coming forward for services," Hendrickson said.

Case in point -- self-defense classes.

CBS 21 attended a packed course currently taking place at York College on Tuesday night.

"When something happens is when I usually see a large group of people say, 'hey, I hear you offer this class, I want to take part in it,'" Alisha Graybill, a veteran officer with the Spring Garden Township Police Department, and teacher of RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) a free 12-hour self-defense program, said.

"This gives them the ability to fight back and be confident when they're out on the street walking by themselves," Graybill said.

If you are victim of rape or sexual assault or know somebody who is a need to talk to somebody, you can call this 24-hour hotline number: 1-800-654-1211

For more information on YWCA services, head to ywcahbg.org.

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