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Rape Crisis Centers Don’t Always Report Crimes To Police

by Jennifer Lindgren CBS 11 News | CBSDFW.COM

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - Only one in three victims of rape will come forward, crisis advocates say.

As Dallas Police search for a serial rapist suspected of nine attacks in a neighborhood south of Fair Park this summer, the question remains if other victims will be identified.

Dozens of new clients have turned to the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center seeking assistance during the same time period.

The advocacy group took in 29 new clients in June; 12 in July; 22 in August; six so far in September.

Executive Director Bobbie Villareal says some of the people who call the DARCC for help will never go to police.

“Not only reporting the crime, but then going through the whole legal process—it’s very intimidating to most victims,” Villareal said.

She says many rape victims feel ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to come forward.

That’s why places like the DARCC are here: to let victims know there is support that is private and confidential.

Unless they find a threat to life, or the suspected sexual abuse of a child, disabled or elderly adult, the rape crisis center will not notify police without the victim’s permission.

HIPAA laws bind places like the DARCC to privacy.

The Office of Attorney General Greg Abbott further explains, victims of sexual assault can receive medical treatment and a forensic exam, but tell the responding officer they do not wish to file a report.

They also have 120 hours after the rape to decide whether to take a forensic exam, and then another 2 years after the exam to decide whether police should pursue the results of the test.

In incidents like the South Dallas rapes, all of the victims were violently attacked by strangers and reported the crimes to police.

Villareal says more often than not, people will report when the attacker is someone they do not know.

“We would always encourage them to report to police. It not only makes them feel safer, but promotes a safer community if we have less perpetrators out on the street,” Villareal said.

But for those who have been raped and do not know where to turn, the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center offers support and guidance 24 hours a day.

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