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More sexual assaults reported, not always to police, according to statewide study

Study finds 2 in 5 women report being assaulted

SAN ANTONIO – The latest statewide study by the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault found more people are reporting sexual assaults, but not always to police.

Although 33 percent had experienced some form of sexual violence, the 70-page report showed only nine percent contacted law enforcement.

“They don’t have to report to the police unless they want to,” said Miriam Elizondo, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center. “That is their power, their decision to make.”

San Antonio Police Chief Bill McManus said, “Despite our best efforts, these types of crime go under-reported every year.”

Elizondo said, “Do we want the bad guys off the street? Absolutely. To the detriment of our clients, absolutely not.” But she said at least more survivors are asking for help, including sex trafficking victims.

“The 17 or under who’ve been trafficked, who’ve been forced into prostitution and repeated sexual assaults, we see that number increasing.” Otherwise, Elizondo said her agency that responds to cases in emergency rooms, typically sees two or three new victims every day.

“We have not seen an increase in the hospital numbers. It fluctuates,” Elizondo said.

But she said the Rape Crisis Center has seen more survivors asking for long-term services.

Elizondo said free counseling is available as long as needed.

She said that level of follow up is necessary especially in cases where there has been severe, complex trauma and repeated abuse.

Being that San Antonio is considered a hub for sex traffickers, she said those cases are not surprising but at least they’re seeing “the identification and rescue of domestic minors.”

But she said even more troubling are the youngest victims of sexual assault.

Elizondo said there have been many times where they’ve come to aid of infants only a couple of months old as well as toddlers.

Speaking at a news conference announcing the study’s findings at Public Safety Headquarters, Annette Burrhus-Clay, executive director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, said that it was imperative that the state devote the needed resources to preventing sexual assault and helping survivors and their families.