IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY AND YOU NEED ASSISTANCE RIGHT AWAY PLEASE DIAL 911
In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, the most important thing is for the victim to get to a safe place. Whether it be the victim’s home, a friend’s home or with a family member, immediate safety is what matters most. When a feeling of safety has been achieved, it is vital for the victim to receive medical attention, and strongly recommended for the victim to receive a forensic examination.
Preserving DNA evidence can be key to identifying the perpetrator in a sexual assault case, especially those in which the offender is a stranger. DNA evidence is an integral part of a law enforcement investigation that can build a strong case to show that a sexual assault occurred and to show that the defendant is the source of biological material left on the victim’s body.1
Even if the victim has not yet decided to report the crime, receiving a forensic medical exam and keeping the evidence safe from damage will improve the chances that the police can access and test the stored evidence at a later date.
A forensic medical exam may be performed at a hospital or other healthcare facility, by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) or another medical professional. This exam is complex and on average, takes 3-4 hours. While this may seem lengthy, medical and forensic exams are comprehensive because the victim deserves and needs special attention to ensure that they are medically safe and protected. In addition, it is important to collect evidence so that if the victim chooses to report the crime to the police, they can access the stored evidence.1
NOTE: The victim has the right to accept or decline any or all parts of the exam. However, it is important to remember that critical evidence may be missed if not collected or analyzed.
After the forensic medical exam is performed and the evidence is collected and stored in the kit, the victim will be able to take a shower, brush their teeth, etc. — all while knowing that the evidence has been preserved to aid in a criminal prosecution if so desired.
The sexual assault forensic exam kit (commonly referred to as a “rape kit”) is the collection of DNA and other forensic evidence, which is then kept by the SANE or medical provider until picked up by law enforcement or the crime lab. It is then stored until the victim determines whether or not to pursue a case. The kit itself is generally a large envelope or cardboard box, which can safely store evidence collected from your body or clothing. While the contents of a sexual assault forensic exam may vary by state and jurisdiction, it may include items, such as:
We would like to thank RAINN for the information provided above. You can visit RAINN’s website at http://www.RAINN.org