by Mye Owens
Right now, more than 2,000 rape kits sit untested at the Texas Department of Public Safety. While many of the kits hold key evidence in cases, some simply hold the stories of the victims.
“I was pretty much passed around like a piece of meat,” says one sexual assault survivor, and others telling similar stories. “If I fought back or how I could let this happen to me,” and another pleading to be heard, “help me please, I just want to be safe.”
Sexual assault survivors all across the United States are looking for justice.
“We can’t just leave these survivors waiting on answers for months and months and months,” explains Pamela Ortega, with the East Texas Crisis Center.
The Crisis Center helps victims of sexual violence.
When a sexual assault victim wants to seek justice, one of the first steps is the rape kit. The rape kit is used to preserve possible evidence of an assault, and for the victim to receive medical care. During the exam, victims are given the chance to report the crime at their discretion.
After a kit is performed at a medical facility, it’s turned over to law enforcement, and then sent to the crime lab to be analyzed.
“They can report a sexual assault and then they get told that they’re not going to have the results back for six months to a year. Then they might ask themselves, why should I do it?” a question Ortega hopes won’t discourage survivors from coming forward.
With this epidemic seen from coast to coast, in East Texas, the members of the East Texas Crisis Center are trying to take a stand through film.
Have you read about the Austin Texas Rape Kits? They were found with mold growing on them. You can read more about that fiasco here.
The HBO documentary “I am Evidence.” The film focuses on the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States. The film makers interview sexual assault victims, as they tell their story of life after the crime. Many of them, explaining how upset they are waiting for justice, as their rape kits sit in backlog.
The Crisis Center held a special screening of the film at the AMC theater in Tyler, in hopes to open the lid on closed boxes full of cases.
“As soon as it can be made a top priority, the sooner the kits can be tested, and the sooner survivors can get justice, and the sooner perpetrators can be behind bars,” explains Ortega.
If you or anyone you know, is the victim of a sexual assault, the East Texas Crisis Center has a 24/7 Hotline you can call at (903) 595-5591.