Project Summary

There is a notable lack of evidence about the range and efficacy of services for adult victims of sexual assault across the state of Texas from the point of outcry to prosecution. We are conducting research that will provide evidence for policy makers, law enforcement and prosecutors, and victim service practitioners and allied professionals on the current state of sexual assault services in Texas and how they can be improved.

According to Busch, et al. (2003) approximately 1.9 million adult Texans (1,479,912 female and 372,394 male), or 13% of adult Texans, have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. The proportion of sexual assault is much higher for females than males (20% versus 5%). According to Kilpatrick (1992), more than 226,000 children and 104,000 adults are raped every year in Texas. However, little is known about the factors that promote or hinder victims to seek services from law enforcement and/or victim service organizations. What is known is that most victims do not report sexual assault (Busch, et al., 2003) and most do not access community-based services.  Moreover, less is known about the gaps in services and how these gaps in services impact a victim’s experience for a return to full physical, mental, and emotional health.

The overall goal of this project is to conduct research that will help evaluate the state’s system to address sexual assault in Texas. The study will comprehensively assess a range of victim services for adult victims of sexual assault from across Texas from the point of outcry to prosecution. Specifically, the objectives of this study are to 1.) assess any gaps in existing services, 2.) identify challenges with collaboration with a focus on the provision of a seamless continuum of services for sexual assault survivors, 3.) identify and document the strengths and promising practices of current program operations and service delivery, and 4.) provide data that outlines the cost of staff and infrastructure to provide these services in geographic areas without such services present. No other broad study of this kind exists in Texas. Policy makers and leaders, members of state government and law enforcement, and practitioners and advocates have identified its need and usefulness.

Sponsor: Texas Governor’s Office Criminal Justice Division