NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A stepped-up effort to address the serious issue of sexual assault of college students has led to a unique partnership here in East Texas.
Stephen F. Austin State University has reached out to the Family Crisis Center of East Texas to establish an outreach office on campus.
East Texas News looked into the national action prompting the service.
Anissa Macias is a senior at SFA. She's learned a lot but was told nothing about sexual assault.
"I have not received any, but I feel like, yeah, definitely they should have more talks about it, ways to prevent it," Macias said. "Definitely."
Change is happening. The Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in April, requires universities to live up to their obligation to protect students from sexual violence.
In addition, the White House released the Not Alone report back in April that outlined a number of mandates that they thought were best practiced. One of the mandates outlined in the report involves making sure that each college or university has an advocate for any victims of sexual assault or domestic violence.
SFA called upon the Family Crisis Center of East Texas. Trained counselors will be on campus to provide education and advocacy. A special hotline number has been set up.
"We start out with accessing their safety level. Are they safe, do they need a safe place to go, things like that," said Katheryn Johnson, a legal advocate for the Family Crisis Center of East Texas. "And it may morph into setting up an appointment to do an intake where we would just gather information about their situation and figure out what services they would best benefit from."
The accessibility can mean the difference between getting help and staying silent. One in five women is sexually assaulted in college. Most often, she does not report what happened.
"They have sex, but maybe it wasn't, and maybe the next day, the girl thinks, 'Well, I didn't consent, but I had too much to drink, so I brought it on myself. It was my fault,' when it fact that is sexual assault," said Heather Kartye, the director of the Family Crisis Center of East Texas. That is rape."
Annual crime statistics show between 2011 and 2013 there were three forcible sexual assaults at SFA.
Campus police are now required to also report violence against women statistics.
Last year at SFA, there were 2 reported domestic violence occurrences at campus housing. There were six reported dating violence, four which occurred on campus. No sexual assaults or stalking events were reported.
"It's so much more than just providing services to the victims," Johnson said. "That community awareness and prevention and education are really important and really one of the main goals of this collaboration."
The outreach office is located inside SFA's University Health Services Clinic and is open Monday through Friday. Victims seeking help may call the hotline which is 468-SAFE.