East Texans honor victims of sexual assault

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) - A sea of balloons are released into the open sky. Each represents a survivor of sexual assault in Angelina County.

"One of six women are going to be victims of sexual assault sometime in their lifetime. One of 33 men will be victims of sexual assault," said Judge Bob Inselmann.

In 2010, 151 East Texans reported they were sexually assault. The Family Crises Center was there to help.

"That's a large number," said Inselmann.

It takes strength and courage to come forward.

"Sixty percent of sexual assaults weren't even reported as crimes," said Inselmann.

Ashley Thompson, with the Crisis Center says raising awareness is the best way to help victims.

"It's very possible for them to not only move on and have a fairly normal life but sometimes an even better life than what they had previously before the assault," said Thompson. She says healing doesn't mean forgetting.

"It's something that you'll always know and you'll think about but it doesn't have to define who you are, it doesn't have to define your life," said Thompson.

Sadly Thompson says many victims are young people-- too scared to report a sexual predator.

"A majority of times we see that they know the perpetrator. It is a family member or friend of the family so a lot of times they struggle with, should they say anything and who will believe them if they do say anything?" said Thompson.

Despite a feeling of shame, Thompson says once the victim is ready to talk, she will be there ready to listen.

The Family Crisis Center provides services to victims of family violence and sexual assault. They help with shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and education services.

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