Information for Survivors

At Joyful Heart, we know that sexual assault can bring deep pain and suffering—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We honor the process of healing and know that it looks different for each individual. Deciding what choices to make in the aftermath of an assault is a complex and deeply personal part of this process. No matter what lies ahead—seeking medical attention, reporting the crime, moving forward with prosecution—it takes a tremendous amount of courage and fortitude to carve out your own pathway to healing and take the steps that feel right for you.

Making the choice to have evidence collected in the aftermath of a sexual assault takes a lot of courage. This evidence can be immensely helpful if you choose to move forward with filing a police report, either immediately or in the future. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm your account of the attack and discredit the suspect, and connect the suspect to other crime scenes.

While there are many benefits of testing rape kit evidence, we know it can be an invasive and arduous experience. Know that if you decide to have evidence collected, you can choose to skip any steps of the exam. You can also have evidence collected without choosing to file a police report—immediately or ever. And you can also seek medical treatment at a hospital or rape crisis center without choosing to undergo a rape kit examination.

We know that as a survivor, you may be coming to this site to learn more about the rape kit process because it has affected you personally. Throughout this section, we seek to make information about the medical and criminal justice systems available to you, as well as provide resources that may be helpful along your healing journey. 

Access to this information can also be helpful to any law enforcement professional, policymaker or advocate working to bring healing and justice to survivors. We invite you to explore this section as well. 

In this section, you can find more information on the following topics:

Click on any of the links to learn more.

keep up with backlog news

 is a program of the  and a proud supporter of