AUSTIN, Texas - Twenty percent of all sex-trafficking cases in the nation have Texas origins. Sexual assault statistics are just as staggering, with nearly seven million Texans having been reportedly victimized, according to researchers at the University of Texas.
But come September 1, there will be new resources available to help survivors.
When it comes to trafficking, Steven Phenix with The Refuge for Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking says the states population and geography plays a part in the statistics.
"The highway system has a great deal to do with it, the CPS system has a great deal to do with it," said Phenix.
According to Phenix, the majority of trafficking victims have criminal records which makes it difficult for them to get a job or apartment if they escape the sex trade.
"Not just prostitution, but drug crimes, battery, shoplifting," said Phenix.
The Refuge, a rehabilitation center for survivors, currently houses 17 girls. Phenix says girls are forced into the sex trade and then forced to commit crimes. Their records follow them.
A new state law will make it easier for survivors to move on by concealing their criminal history. But Phenix worries this will be too expensive for the survivors he works with at the Refuge.
"It hides the cases, they're still there and discoverable, but to get those cases hidden you have to hire an attorney," said Phenix.
A clear success from the legislative session was a measure aimed at tackling the state's rape-kit backlog. The new law gives sexual assault survivors seven days to have a forensic exam done, instead of five. It also creates a timeline for labs to test rape kits within 90 days of receiving the evidence, and prohibits the state from destroying the rape kit for 40 years.
"When survivors decide to come in and get a sexual assault forensic exam done, that is an important decision and we are glad and we know that survivors are glad that the legisature is taking that decision seriously," said Piper Nelson with the SAFE Alliance.
Nelson hopes this law will encourage victims to come forward trusting the system is on their side.
"It's really important to our work to stop the cycle of violence," said Nelson.
The law tackling the rape kit backlog is named after a Dallas woman who was raped at knife-point when she was 13. Her rape kit sat untested for more than 20 years, which was beyond the state's statute of limitations at the time.
Click the video link above to watch our in depth coverage of the new laws set to take effect, including an interview with Katherine Strandberg of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault.