AUSTIN, TX – As the nation recognizes April as Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, the Texas Access to Justice Foundation has announced Legal Aid for Survivors of Sexual Assault (LASSA), a new and vital network of services now available to survivors of sexual assault in Texas who qualify for legal aid.
One in five women and one in 20 men in our state have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime, according to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA). Over 90 percent of Texans who have been sexually assaulted did not report to law enforcement.
Survivors have a new statewide toll-free number [1-844-303-7233 (SAFE)] to call for representation and referral to nine legal aid organizations who are partnering with domestic violence and rape crisis centers across Texas for community outreach, education, and referrals.
“As survivors of sexual assault begin to rebuild their lives, legal issues may arise that affect their safety and well-being,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, the Court’s liaison for access to justice issues, said. “Help is now a confidential phone call away for Texans who qualify for legal aid.”
The LASSA Network will serve every Texas county, providing survivors of sexual assault with a wide range of free legal services from general advice to holistic, direct representation in civil legal matters stemming from the sexual assault. Survivors’ legal problems can include: privacy violations, physical safety threats, school accommodations, employment sanctions, financial problems, housing problems, and immigration consequences.
The initiative was made possible through $10 million in funding from the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature for the 2015-2017 biennium. These funds come from a tax on sexually oriented businesses intended to generate revenue that will, in part, underwrite programs to aid victims of sexual assault. The funds are distributed by the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to grantees across the state.