The Rape Crisis Center of San Antonio has seen a lot of tragedy and has helped a lot of people put their broken lives back together in forty years, and today Police Chief Bill McManus and District Attorney Nico LaHood are among those who are helping the Center mark it’s fortieth anniversary, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Deana Buril credits Mayor Lila Cockrell and City Attorney Jane Macon with coming up with the idea of setting up a center to help victims of sexual assault and sexual violence.
She says as the Center has expanded over the years, they have expanded their services to all different sorts of victims of sexual assault and sexual violence.
“I think initially it was more women, because it was seen as a problem that only affected women, but it has expanded over the years to be a problem that affected children, men, families, it became everyone’s issue.”
The Center has answered more than 16,000 calls on its 24 hour hot line, accompanied 883 children, women, and men to the hospital for sexual assault forensic exams, provided counseling to survivors and conducted many school classes on what it means to have a healthy relationship.
Buril says attitudes about what sexual assault is and who are victims of sexual assault have changed since 1975. First of all, she says the old idea that if a woman wears a certain type of clothing, she is somehow ‘inviting’ sexual assault is moving into the past.
“There is a very strong feeling in society that you have the right to wear whatever you want to wear, and that doesn’t give them the right to touch you,” she said.
Over the years, the Legislature has also become more in tune with the problems faced by victims of sexual assault. It has established rules allowing rape crisis and battered women’s shelters to help the children and the pets of victims, on the understanding that frequently victims won’t leave a sexual abuser and get help because they’re afraid of what might happen to those they leave behind.
She says more and more women have become aware that the person most likely to sexually assault them is not the creep in the raincoat or the stalker lurking in the shadows, although those types can be dangerous.
“It’s usually either a partner or a family member like an uncle, a grandpa or a friend of a friend,” she said. “Its frequently somebody the victim knows.”
There are attitudes that are changing more slowly and are priorities for the coming forty years. They include the idea, unfortunately voiced by celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg, that spousal rape, date rape, and, in Goldberg’s case, the consensual sex between director Roman Polanski and an underage girl are ‘not really rape.’
“There are still a lot of oppressive beliefs out there that lead us to think its okay to do this, and it’s not.”