BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Sexual assault remains a hot topic after survivors spoke out at this year’s legislative session.
The Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response (STAR) spoke at Monday’s press club gathering.
According to Rachel Hebert, president and CEO of STAR, in 2019 the Department of Justice found only 33 percent of rape and assault are reported to the police.
The group works with law enforcement when a sexual trauma case is reported and works with those who personally seek help with STAR without reporting to police.
“While our relationship with the police is critical many of our clients don’t go through the justice system,” Hebert said.
The Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response team lobbies at the Capitol, pushing for bills to support survivors of sexual violence.
“Something that has been on our to-do list, but it’s just very hard is to get funding for sexual assault centers in Louisiana,” said Morgan Lamandre, legal director for STAR.
The STAR team has been working with LSU and its Title IX programs for eight months to create a safer environment for students. They say it’s the survivors who share their stories who deserve the credit for changing LSU policies for the better.
“We look at our work with LSU that is focused on culture change and social change,” Hebert said.
Despite the outrage over LSU’s handling of sexual misconduct, Hebert says people still support athletes
like Saints quarterback Jameis Winson who has been accused of sexual misconduct.
“It’s not something that will change overnight but something that as we continue to chip away of things incorrectly, revise and recorrect things in a survival and student focus way,” she said.
STAR locations statewide are struggling to meet the demand of survivors looking for help. Leaders say this is what motivates them to push for more change.
The STAR team hopes to advocate for people younger than 17 during the next legislative session.