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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s new, no-cost help for sexual assault victims in North Texas.
Sexual Assault Legal Services and Assistance (SALSA) has launched a phone line providing free legal help to those they call “sexual assault survivors.”
Laura Hilgart, with the Women’s Center of Tarrant County, explained that each year more than 1,400 sexual assaults are reported in the county — but that the number isn’t representative.
“But what we know is that, 82-percent of sexual assaults in Texas go unreported,” she said.
Lawyers provide free and confidential legal help to any victim of sexual assault, anywhere in the state.
Hilgart said the scope of assistance needed is wide and varied.
“An act of sexual violence can be devastating and impacts multiple aspects of a survivor’s life – safety, privacy, finances, education, employment, housing, and more.”
Christi Cameron can finally talk publicly about being raped more than a decade ago. A man, who said he had a gun, attacked her in a stairwell.
“And I screamed ‘somebody help me,’” Cameron recalled. “With those words shouted he instantly hit me in the face and grabbed me by my neck and told me he would have no problem snapping it and killing me if I screamed again.”
Cameron said the services offered by SALSA are just the kind of help she needed when she was attacked, assistance she says the criminal justice system is unequipped to meet.
“Living through something like this I realized, pretty much immediately, I needed help. I realized how much help was out there, nevertheless I also realized how much more needed to be done.”
Hilgart says the new service is, “Absolutely confidential. No cost to survivors. It is a wonderful resource in Tarrant County. It is a wonderful resource across the state of Texas.”
According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, nearly two million adult Texans (1,479,912 females and 372,394 males) have been sexually assaulted.
SALSA attorneys, assisting with everything from requesting protective orders to obtaining crime victims compensation, will be available from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday at (888) 343-4414.
Anyone needing immediate assistance can also call the 24 hour Crisis Hotline at (817) 927-2737, available 24 hours a day – seven days a week.
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