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What is a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit?

How do I prepare for a sexual assault evidence kit and what can I expect?

A forensic exam kit also known as a rape kit, or sexual assault evidence kit – is a thorough medical examination conducted to collect and document physical evidence after sexual assault. DNA evidence from a crime like sexual assault can be collected from the crime scene, but it can also be collected from your body, clothes, and other personal belongings. This kit is used for investigative purposes by the police, and the use of this kit is entirely up to your discretion. As part of this exam, the following samples may be collected:

Along with this, photographs of injuries, and clothing articles are also collected and stored as evidence. These samples are important to record evidence of assault, and potentially uncover the assailant’s DNA.  Prior to this exam, a medical examination is conducted to treat injuries, and prevent pregnancy and STIs. This is often a difficult experience, and you are welcome to stop the process at any moment. Your comfort and consent at each step are the key to moving forward during the examination. 

You are given a choice to have the collected evidence stored for a limited period of time or sent to the police. If you decide to pursue legal action, examination centers offer assistance in contacting the police and filing a report. In the case that you are unsure about reporting, evidence collected will be frozen, and stored at the center for up to one year*.

The length of the exam may take a few hours, but the actual time will vary based on several different factors. 

 As a part of this exam, you are encouraged to prepare yourself and know what to expect when you walk in.

How to prepare for a sexual assault forensic exam

If you are considering having a forensic exam done, here are some things that you can do to ensure that evidence is protected. If possible, do not

Remember to bring an extra pair of clothing, as clothing from the assault may be collected. The best evidence can be collected up to 72 hours after the assault. The earlier the visit, the more evidence that can be collected and the sooner that injuries, or STIs, and pregnancy prevention can be administered. However, you can still come in after the 72 hours to get a kit administered. 

This is undeniably a difficult experience. To make it easier to navigate, bring along someone you trust. Some assault crisis centers will send someone to accompany you to the examination if you wish, often called an advocate. Be aware that if you invite someone other than an advocate into the exam room, they could be called as a witness if you decide to report the crime.

What happens during a sexual assault forensic exam?

Here are steps from RAINN of what to expect during a sexual assault forensic exam:

*The time frame of one year is accurate in Ontario, Canada as of the published date. We encourage you to check your local regulations as it varies by jurisdiction.


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