Family Support Services ready to serve needs of sexual assault victims

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Amarillo has the highest reported sexual assault rate in Texas per capita, according to Family Support Services.

Officials say it's not because we have more of a problem, but good resources that allow victims to feel safe and comfortable in stepping forward.

Last March, Family Support Services saw 20 cases of sexual assault.

This March it more than doubled with 50.

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"What we're hoping is that the higher rate of reporting is just showing that we're getting enough information out there so that people are feeling safe enough and understanding there's enough support out there so that they can make those reports," said Kathy Tortoreo of Family Support Services. "We're not under the impression that Amarillo has a much larger problem. That's not what any of us are thinking."

Nationally, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes.

Family Support Services said victims can sometimes feel uncomfortable reporting to authorities.

"What we find in sexual assault victims is that when they tell somebody that I was sexual assaulted or somebody did this to me some of the first responses are 'Well what were you doing? Where were you? Why were you out so late? What were you wearing?'" said Tortoreo. "So it becomes very blaming. That's one of the reasons people don't want to talk about it They don't want to have to face those type of questions."

Tortoreo said Family Support Services is always ready to remain sensitive to victim needs.

"What I would say to someone who is a victim and hasn't said anything to anyone is that there are people who will believe you. Family Support Services will believe you. The district attorneys will believe you. The police department will believe you," said Tortoreo.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, contact the local authorities or Family Support Services.

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