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Sexual Assault Victims Have New Legal Ally in Texas

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File photo - a woman in tears. (credit: Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images)

File photo – a woman in tears. (credit: Salah Malkawi/ Getty Images)

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The Sexual Assault Legal Services and Assistance Program, SALSA, now offers free and confidential legal counsel to victims of sexual violence in the state of Texas.  

According to Harriet O’Neill, former Texas Supreme Court Justice and former member of the National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, the SALSA program is uniquely qualified to provide the best legal assistance available to victims of sexual assault. “An act of sexual violence can devastate and derail a victim’s life,” said Justice O’Neill.  “It is critically important to ensure that legal services and resources are available and accessible to help restore victims’ lives after an attack.” 

With an estimated 1,963,000 victims residing in the state, recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that the rate of sexual assault in Texas is slightly higher than the national average – for both women and men. 

“Pressing criminal charges can put a perpetrator behind bars, but survivors of sexual violence have other legal rights and needs that often go unrecognized and unmet,” said Torie Camp, Deputy Director of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. “Safety. Privacy. Housing. Education. Finances. Employment. Immigration Status. These are things that people don’t even think about when they hear the phrase “sexual assault”, but it can affect every aspect of a person’s life. That’s why the Sexual Assault Legal Services and Assistance Program hotline was established.” 

Founded by a federal grant from the United States Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, SALSA is a project of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault and the Texas Legal Services Center. 

“TAASA and TLSC’s combined experience providing free legal services and supporting sexual assault victims throughout the state makes SALSA a great legal ally for survivors.” said Paula Pierce , Hotline Program Manager at the Texas Legal Services Center. “Both our hotline number, 1-888-343-4414, and our website at hopelaws.org are up and running. We are open for business Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and we’re ready to take more calls.”

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