HOUSTON – The Harris County District Attorneys’ office announced a new partnership with area universities and colleges to help provide access to services for students and survivors of sexual assault.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, along with several representatives from numerous Houston-area colleges and universities, attended the news conference that took place at Rice University on Thursday.
According to Ogg, $165,000 in forfeiture funds will go to the Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners to help provide services at participating universities. The money will allow the universities to train and hire forensic interviewers who are able to provide access to services and specialized care to sexual assault victims.
Participating universities and colleges include Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, and Rice University.
Ogg said she hopes the funds will bring “victim-centric” programs to assist those who are affected. She also emphasized that bringing in trained professionals to assist with victims is important now more than ever.
“It’s important to have a proactive program that provides people with information. That is power for victims,” Ogg said. “Knowing that there is a place to call, where they can get an examination...that is victim-centric, trauma-informed, and done by professionals.”
University of Houston alum Isaiah Martin and senior Jack Jordan said they worked together for the past year to form the program to provide support to sexual assault survivors.
“I knew someone very close to me that went through a traumatic experience and just seeing the pain they went through every single day and seeing how is manifested in her day-to-day life made me feel that I had to do something to change our university and really change our culture,” Martin said.
Martin said they hosted several focus groups to talk to survivors and gauge the resources they most needed.
“Every student now at the UH and the 6 other universities that are involved are going to have access to a hotline and that person is going to walk them through on their options,” he added. ‘If they want to go the legal route, they can. If they want to get support more emotionally, they can. If they want to do both together they can.”