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Sexual assault exams on the rise in Austin

Monday, April 8, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Non-report evidence collection for sexual assaults is up. But that’s a good thing, Jenny Black, the director of forensic nursing at SAFE Alliance’s Eloise House, told the Public Safety Commission at its April 1 meeting. “I think it’s important that we have strong numbers of non-reports,” said Black, explaining that having collected evidence allows victims time to make a decision on whether or not they want to press charges at a later date. According to her, the average time an evidence kit sits on a shelf before an assault is reported to law enforcement is 9.5 weeks. Due to the traumatic nature of sexual assault, under-reporting of the crime is rampant. Data shows that in Texas, only about 9 percent of sexual assault victims report their assaults to police, and an even smaller percentage (3.5 percent) ever see a sexual assault nurse. At Eloise House, the numbers are higher, and those who see a nurse but don’t report has risen from 8 percent of patients in 2015 to 22 percent last year. While no one wants to see more patients that would help increase those numbers, Black noted that she is hopeful the numbers will continue to rise in order to give more survivors a path to justice when they are ready to pursue it.

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