POSTED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 5:22pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 5:26pm
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Every year, 200 victims of sexual assault come forward to report the crime to the El Paso District Attorney's office but they say, that number could be much higher.
The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault say statewide more than 80-percent of cases here in the borderland are not reported and officials are hoping to combat that shocking statistic.
Colorful signs and stirring words kick off the ‘No More’ rally in front of the El Paso County Courthouse. "Rallies like this are to inform, educate and make this community aware of sexual assault,” District Attorney Jaime Esparza said.
County organizations joined forces to reach Sexual Assault Awareness survivors."It's unfortunate that we have to have a special time for survivors of sexual abuse,” Penny Hamilton, the Chief for the Rape and Child Abuse Unit for El Paso County explained, April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. "But we do that so that we don't forget."
It's a crime, officials say, which goes largely unreported.
The El Paso District Attorney's Office sees on average 212 cases a year, for the past eight years.
In 2006 there were 235, with little change in 2013 -- with 232 cases, according to the District Attorney’s office.
"It's a very under reported crime as we know. Survivors are very reluctant to come forward,” Stephanie Karr the Executive Director for the Center Against Family Violence (CAFV). CAFV believes that number could be as high as 600 in El Paso County Based on the number of calls they receive. "We are receiving about 30 to 50 phone calls a month on our crisis help line related to sexual assault."
They say, Victims are too afraid to come forward And often, don't trust authorities. "One of the largest stigmas around sexual assault is victim blaming. That somehow it's the victim's fault,” she said.
Monday, was an effort to reach out to survivors, "Continuing to message all the time that it's not OK, no more, we're not tolerating that in our El Paso community."
And go beyond the month of April, “When someone does reach out to you, we need to reach back and tell them there are services and this courthouse can help,” Esparza said.
County officials aren't the only ones raising sexual assault awareness.UTEP will be hosting Take Back The Night events. The university's clothesline project is on display now and can be viewed until 5 pm until Thursday at the University Library. On Wednesday the Hijas De Su Madre Project from 10 to 1:30 at Union Plaza. And Thursday -- they will host their Unpacking Masculinity event at the Sun Bowl Stadium from 3 to 5.