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Texans now have option to donate for rape kits on driver license application

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ABILENE, Texas - A new Texas law will allow drivers to help reduce the state's rape kit testing backlog by choosing to donate $1 on their driver license applications.

On January 1, driver's license applications will change to will allow donations for sexual assault kits. In the state of Texas there were approximately 18,955 sexual assault reports made as of August 31, 2017. In Abilene there were a total of 304.

As of August 31, there were 2,138 untested rape kits, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Regional Victim Crisis Center Interim Executive Director Monica Reid said it's important that people become aware of this problem and victims receive the services they need.

"I would love to see everyone check that box if there is an option to give a dollar to help processing SANE kits," Reid said. "One dollar from everybody that gets their driver's license would make a big difference for victims and children of sexual abuse."

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, also called SANE nurses, have increased over the years.

April Songer said there are nine SANE nurses at Hendrick Health System. She also said she must keep in mind that these patients are victims of sexual assault.

" Usually we ' re the first people they see after this happens to them, so we bring them in, bring an advocate with them, we're very compassionate, " Songer said. " We take our time with the exam and then we collect evidence as well."

Songer said in her four years working as a SANE nurse, she has tested approximately 150 rape kits.

"I think that's awesome for our community to get together, to help these victims, to get closure, to get answers, to be able to move on," Songer said.

Reid said victims can choose to have an exam even if they don't want to press charges while they process the crime.

Legislators appropriated $4.2 million in the 2017 Texas budget for backlogged rape kits.

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