SAN ANGELO, Texas — According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every 73 seconds an American is sexually-assaulted. These Americans are men and women of any age, race and religion.
The Texas Senate recently passed Senate Bill 212, which requires all employees at educational institutes throughout Texas to report any information they hear regarding sexual assault. The consequence of employees not reporting has been raised to a Class A or B misdemeanor.
Michelle Boone, director of Title IX at Angelo State University, said that for the five years that she has been with ASU, its policy has been that faculty is required to report.
She said this bill just raises the repercussions and refreshes the staff’s memory of the importance of reporting. Boone said ASU strives to fight sexual assault on its campus by requiring all incoming students to complete an online training that addresses consent and situations commonly experienced on a college campus.
For safety purposes, ASU offers a free app called Lifeline Edu. This app allows worried students to press and hold their screens as they walk. If for any reason the student releases their screen, there is an allotted time to type in their special code. If that code is not entered in time, help will be dispatched to them.
One purpose of Title IX is to direct students towards resources they might need. In the Concho Valley, Open Arms is an organization that advocate for the LBGT+ community and for victims of assault ages 12 and up. Victim services advocate Melissa Hernandez meets with victims every day and said Open Arms has support groups for both sexual assault survivors and LBGT+ members.
People who wish to participate in a support group must complete a background check and will remain confidential. This is to ensure everyone is safe. Hernandez said in February 2020, Open Arms will start an online support group for those who cannot always not to make the trip to San Angelo or have scheduling conflicts.
Open Arms offers assistance for victims who go to Shannon Medical Clinic to receive forensic testing. Advocates are sent to the hospital to support and educate victims on their options. For those experiencing a crisis, the Open Arms hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with volunteers who complete 40 hours of training. The number for the hotline is 325-658-HOPE.
To prepare hotline volunteers, Open Arms brings in Brittany Arispe to speak to them about her experience.
Arispe was five-years-old when her best friend’s father and his father-in-law began sexually assaulting her. She never told anyone until she was a married adult with children of her own. Arispe has been waiting to go to trial for the past two years. Her story gives the hotline volunteers an idea of what it’s like talking to a victim.