Survivors of sexual assault often face more than criminal justice issues. There are common legal issues that include safety, employment, family law and privacy.
HPD has launched a new sexual assault information line that can be reached by phone at 713.308.1400 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Captain Jennifer Evans is with the special crimes division.
"The purpose of the information line is to give survivors of sexual assault, who reported their sexual assault to the Houston Police Department anytime from the 1980s to the present, a resource to contact the HPD about their case. We want to give victims the opportunity to contact us on their own terms."
The caller will be asked information about themselves and about the initial report.
"No information about the case will be shared with the caller because of the confidentiality of these type of cases, and then that information is turned over to our investigators, and then has a meeting with the survivor at a later time."
The Houston Police Department investigates some 1,600 cases of sexual assault each year. The influx resulted in a much better way to notify victims to give them control.
Capt. Evans says it came from HPD working with various entities, like hospitals and medical centers, university research teams and the National Institute of Justice to improve those investigations.
"One of the issues that this task force examined was the notification process in sexual assaults, especially when there was a lag between the initial report to law enforcement and secondary contact. The creation of this information line was the result of our collaboration with these partners, in an effort to allow victims a choice in the notification process."
Sonia Corrales is with the Houston Area Women's Center. She calls the information line — a trauma informed notification strategy — part of a solid and sustainable plan that awards proper and ongoing priority and resources to rape cases, while protecting the rights and well-being of survivors.
"We believe that the information line, is a trauma-informed practice that allows survivors the power of choice. We understand that survivors will experience mixed emotions about re-engaging in the criminal justice system. It's important for survivors know, that they have access to advocates who can provide support and crisis intervention, and additional resources."
The task force is making brochures about the information line available at women's centers and police storefronts across the city.