Thursday, March 22, 2007

Rape Kits Don't Cleanse The Uterus

I found this quote on The Barbwire a conservative Christian Blog:

And I am for any rape victim having the rape kit cleansing of the uterus, starting of her period –immediately after the rape. But any other abortion has a high correlation with breast cancer because it unnaturally abrupts the changes that take place in the breast during pregnancy in a way that natural spontaneous miscarriage does NOT–not to mention, the emotional trauma.
As a volunteer sexual assault advocate who during my 9 plus years on the crisis line has been with rape victims as they came into the hospital to have a rape kit done, I need to clear up a basic misunderstanding.

Rape kits don't cleanse anything. Rape kits are for the collection of forensic evidence from sexual assaults. They have no relationship at all to birth control or to abortion. If someone has a rape kit done that means a qualified medical professional has collected forensic evidence from the victim.

This is called a rape kit because the material needed to collect DNA evidence from a rape victim has been put together in a specialized kit designed for this type of crime. When the collection of evidence is done, the kit is sealed so it is ready to be sent to a DNA laboratory. The rape kit used in my area when I was last at the hospital with a rape victim was about the size of a lunch box.

The only questions these medical professionals should ask about the crime relate to the possible location of DNA evidence.

Rape kits are used for both female and male victims of sexual assaults.

This evidence collection needs to be done as soon as possible after a rape or other sexual assault where there is any potential for DNA evidence. The quote above is confusing, but it is important to remember that if a rape victim waits for her period to start, most likely the DNA evidence will be gone.

If in doubt about the timing, check with your local sexual assault crisis line or with if you can't find the number for a local crisis line. This is a scary and confusing process which can be less scary and less confusing if you have someone in your corner who is familiar with the process and who is centered on the needs of the victim and the victim's family.

When a female rape victim is seen by medical professionals to have a rape kit done, she may or may not be offered emergency birth control depending on where she is seen. If she is offered EC, it won't be offered until after a pregnancy test has been completed.

Victims can and do decline to get emergency birth control.

Well-trained staff and volunteers will respect the victim's decision -- whatever it is -- this is critical since the crime has already robbed the victim of control over her own body. Bullying or lecturing, even with the best of intentions, has no place in this process.

In addition to the collection of forensic evidence and possibly being offered EC, medical personnel will address the issue of sexually transmitted diseases. Medicine may be prescribed to help reduce the chance that the victim will get certain STDs.

Unfortunately, not all towns have medical personnel trained in collecting evidence for a rape kit.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 6:13 PM   0 comments links to this post


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