Sexual Assault: Rape Kits and the Backlog



By Mindy Lawrence


Less than every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. The trauma from the event makes it hard to know what to do next. If the person decides to get a medical examination, it will last between four and six hours. It is thorough. If they don’t decide to do that, it will be much harder to find the perpetrator.


Four things are important to do if you have this happen:

· First, go somewhere safe. You will be in shock. Go to a friend’s house, your home, or a police station where you can be safe.

· Call 800.656.HOPE (4673). Someone who is trained will be there to trained

· Leave your body as it is. Don’t try to clean up or rid yourself of anything that could be evidence.

· Get medical help.

· Decide if you want to talk to the police. If so, contact them right away.


You might also consider seeing a counselor. The kind of trauma suffered is deep.


What is in a rape kit?

The contents of a rape kit vary from state to state but most kits contain these:

· Detailed instructions for the examiner

· Forms for documenting the procedure and evidence gathered

· Tubes and containers for blood and urine samples

· Paper bags for collecting clothing and other physical evidence

· Swabs for biological evidence collection

· A large sheet of paper on which the victim undresses to collect hairs and fibers

· Dental floss and wooden sticks for fingernail scrapings

· Glass slides

· Sterile water and saline

· Envelopes, boxes, and labels for each of the various stages of the exam

(https://www.endthebacklog.org/information-survivors-dna-and-rape-kit-evidence/what-rape-kit-and-rape-kit-exam)


It’s important to know that you can decline any part of the examination.


Rape kits have been backlogged in many states. Statistics on your state can most likely be found on a Google search. Some states are catching up, clearing their backlog. Some are not doing as well. There is no national system for tracking rape kits. Be aware of this.



LINKS


What to Do if You were Raped, Sherrie Gordon, VeryWell Mind

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-do-if-you-were-raped-4797508


What is a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam?

https://www.rainn.org/articles/rape-kit


What Is a Rape Kit and Rape Kit Exam? End the Backlog

https://www.endthebacklog.org/information-survivors-dna-and-rape-kit-evidence/what-rape-kit-and-rape-kit-exam


Missouri rape prosecution initiative tests over 2,000 backlogged evidence kits, Sarah Kellogg, St. Louis Public Radio

https://news.stlpublicradio.org/government-politics-issues/2021-10-07/missouri-rape-prosecution-initiative-tests-over-2-000-backlogged-evidence-kits


How Rape Kits Work, Tracee Cornforth, VeryWell Health

https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-rape-kit-3522601


After a sexual assault, where can you get a medical and forensic exam? Adiel Kaplan, Wilson Wong, Alexa Keyes and Catie Beck, NBC News

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/sexual-health/after-sexual-assault-where-can-you-get-medical-forensic-exam-n1240035



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