Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
What it is:
A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE), more commonly known as Rape Kit, is an exam consisting of forensic tools which are used to collect and preserve DNA and other physical evidence for criminal persecution after sexual assault has taken place. Both males and females are encouraged to undergo the examination. It is utterly important that victims know that they do not have to report the crime to undergo this examination and that this examination is free of charge. This process essentially gives you the opportunity to safely store evidence should you decide to report the sexual assault later.
Where SAFE kits can be found:
SAFE kits are available and carried out in hospitals. Undergoing this examination is usually traumatic for victims so it is advised to go with someone you can trust for support.
What the exam entails:
SAFE kits include a few steps, none of these steps can take place until consent (verbal and written) is given by the victim. Consent can be withdrawn at any point during the exam and the victim can choose which part of the exam they consent to and which part they do not consent to. Before any step of the examination takes place, each step should be thoroughly explained to the victim. Victims have the choice to not undergo the full examination. For maximal results, it is advised to undergo the full examination.
Overview of the exam:
-There is an assessment of injuries.
-The victim will be asked to narrate the story. This step is the most challenging part for most victims.
-The doctor or nurse will collect DNA samples from the victim’s body which includes:
oral swabs, hair from the head, pubic hair, fingernail scrapings, urine, swabs from the anal and perianal area, swabs from the female vaginal area and swabs from the male penis
-In some cases, clothing of the victim can be collected to check for additional DNA material
SAFE is usually tailored to an individual’s situation. It also includes preventive care for pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s).
PLEASE NOTE: The sooner the examination is carried out after the assault increases the likelihood of the perpetrator being identified. The safety window after the assault has taken place is 36 hours. Victims are advised not to shower or change clothing until after the examination has been conducted for maximal results.