BROWNSVILLE — Statistics show someone is a victim of sexual assault here in the US every two and half minutes.
Here in Cameron County, Friendship of Women, a non-profit organization that assists victims of both physical and sexual abuse, receives about five thousand calls a year.
According to the organization, the Brownsville Police Department received 31 sexual assault reports in 2010, in 2011, 37. The agency served 88 sexual assault victims from 2009 to 2010, in 2010 to 2011, 147 and since September, up to this point, they've already served 102 clients.
Those numbers are the highest they've been in four years.
"Only twenty percent of sexual assaults are reported so what about the other 80%?" asks Claudia Cerda, of Friendship of Women.
Cerda adds sexual assault is a crime that victims are embarrassed to report.
"The victim thinks it's their fault that they brought it upon themselves," says Cerda.
Or in some cases, the victim doesn't even realize they've been violated.
"A lot of these victims they don't know; it's children that have suffered this crime," says Cerda.
The organization reports that while the sexual assaults can be committed by a person that is unknown to the victim, a number of the assaults are also committed by someone the victim knows...in some cases...her own husband.
"We also service victims for marital rape, they didn't know they were being raped by their husbands.” says Frances Cicneros, of Friendship of Women.
With this month being Sexual Assault Awareness month, Friendship of Women is really trying to stress the importance of education and prevention when it comes to these types of crimes that can both mentally and physically scar the victim.
"We see a lot of victims, adult victims that they have a history of child abuse so they were victims when they were children and now they're dealing with it...Now with the awareness, the community education, the presentations, that's how people get informed and that's what sexual assault awareness is all about," says Cisneros.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence, you can contact Friendship of Women at 544-7412. Their hotline is open 24 hours a day.