Helping sex assault victims through trauma could help increase prosecutions of sex crimes

Many sexual assault cases are rarely fully prosecuted because victims can’t be located or don’t want to face their attacker in court, according to Meli Powers, chief of family division in the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office.

Powers sees the scars of sex assault trauma firsthand in the victims she encounters.

She says many cases involving sexual assault never make it into a courtroom at all.

“When we have a case that occurred on one day, and it’s going to court a later date, we might see a victim is not ready to come to court, not ready to testify. The trauma is still much too fresh, or they have not begun the emotional healing process,” Power said.

Victim liaisons connect victims with resources and walk them through the process. Powers says victims cannot be reached sometimes, and while there’s an initial arrest, the case never gets tried.

“Sometimes, as you get closer to the court date, those feelings might be too strong, where they don’t feel they’re able to do it at this time,” Powers said.

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault reports that over 94% of rapists will roam free, with only 3% ever facing a day in jail.

Powers said helping victims heal can help them build the courage to face their attackers.

“Taking that step of following through the case and assisting the prosecution in terms of coming to court to tell and describe what happened to them, it’s the first step in healing and in closure — extremely difficult, no doubt,” Power said. “…You have the option to stop the violence for the next person.”