Sexual assault can bring deep pain and suffering to survivors—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Joyful Heart honors the process of healing and knows that it can be 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 a pathway to healing and take the steps that feel right.
Deciding to have evidence collected in the aftermath of a sexual assault takes courage. This evidence can be immensely helpful if a survivor chooses to move forward with filing a police report, either immediately or in the future. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, affirm the survivor’s account of the attack and discredit the suspect, and connect the suspect to other crime scenes.
Although there are many benefits of testing rape kit evidence, it can be an invasive and lengthy procedure. It’s important to note that a survivor can choose to skip any steps of the exam. It’s also possible to have evidence collected without choosing to file a police report—immediately or ever. And survivors can seek medical treatment at a hospital or rape crisis center without choosing to undergo a rape kit examination.
Throughout this section, we seek to make information about the medical and criminal justice systems available for survivors as well as provide resources that may be of assistance along the healing journey.
This information can also be helpful to any law enforcement professional, policymaker or advocate working to bring healing and justice to survivors.
In this section, you can find more information on the following topics:
- Rape kit and DNA evidence
- Evidence collection process
- Reporting a rape
- Survivors’ rights
- Support and resources for survivors
- Victim notification
Click on any of the links to learn more.