For the brave men and women who report their sexual assault or rape, talking about the assault is just one step to obtaining justice. Another very important part of this process is the collection of evidence through a rape kit. Yet, despite the fact that the evidence contained in these kits could be linked to individuals in databases throughout the country, thousands sit untested. However, a new program has been created which will hopefully eliminate the rape kit backlog and bring justice to victims.
What Is SAKI?
Across the country, law enforcement has reported that funding is a major issue and that this is why it is so difficult to process the rape kits in a timely manner but the reality is that as a nation, we have to do better. After all, how can a victim feel that they are being advocated for if their rape kit sits untested for months or even years? This is why the Obama – Biden administration created SAKI.
SAKI is the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. This program was designed to help reduce the number of untested rape kits by creating a competitive grant program through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
The goals of this program are to ensure the just resolution of sexual assault cases through:
- Creating a victim-centered approach.
- Building a higher processing capacity so that in the future the number of rape kits that remain untested will be minimal or non-existent.
- Support the investigation of cases that have previously failed to move forward based on untested rape kits.
Not only does the program help untested kits be processed but it also provides training for law enforcement regarding the collection of forensic evidence, the investigation into the alleged assault, and supporting the victims.
Why Are Sexual Assault Kits So Important?
When a rape or sexual assault is reported, it can provide the forensic evidence needed to scientifically prove that the defendant did what they are being accused of.
The kits are collected by professionals who have been trained on correctly collecting and preserving evidence. During this exam, the survivor can expect:
- A full medical exam and treatment for any injuries that they have sustained.
- A discussion on their medical history.
- To be given instructions on follow-up care.
Do I Have To Have A Rape Kit Collected?
No, survivors have the right to decline a rape kit. However, it’s important to remember that there is a very narrow window during which certain types of evidence can be collected and once a patient showers, washes their hands, changes their clothing, or even brushes their hair, some of that evidence may be lost.
Pursuing Justice After A Sexual Assault
Although many survivors are aware of the fact that they can choose to file criminal charges against the person who caused them harm, what they don’t know is that it is often possible to also file a civil lawsuit.
A sexual assault lawsuit can provide the survivor with the care they need to move forward after this harrowing experience through compensation. At Abuse Guardian, we know that there is no sum which will remove the memory of what has happened, but compensation could cover medical treatments and therapy. This lawsuit can be filed at the same time as the criminal charges.
Our experienced and dedicated legal team believes that all sexual assault survivors deserve an advocate, and even with all of the hard work being done to get the justice system in order, the fact is that this system often fails victims. With over 90 years of combined experience, our lawyers seek to get survivors the compensation that they need.