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Opinion

Readers React: Sexual assault survivors deserve to know when, not if, their rape kits will be tested

She went to the ER for a rape exam. Her nurse didn’t know how to do one.
Police seals protect evidence in a rape kit in Oak Park, Ill.
(Kristan Lieb / TNS)

To the editor: Twenty-four hours a day, counselor advocates from Peace Over Violence and rape crisis centers around the state accompany survivors of sexual assault of all ages and backgrounds to hospital emergency rooms to get medical attention and, if they choose, go through the evidence collection process known as the sexual assault forensic exam, more commonly called the rape kit.

Advocates respond because we believe nobody should go through the trauma of reporting a rape alone, to support them during interviews with law enforcement, or to simply hold their hand. For many survivors, this intrusive exam can be just as traumatizing as the assault that sent them to the hospital.

How dare society urge survivors to opt in to this invasive procedure with no intent to actually test the kits? It should not be a question of if the evidence collected from survivors’ bodies will be analyzed, but when and how they will be notified of any results.

Patti Giggans, Los Angeles

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The writer is executive director of the nonprofit group Peace Over Violence.

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