New sexual assault kit laws give power and control back to survivors

Now, if the victim reports the incident, officers have 72 hours to collect the kit and then 14 days to send the kit to analysis.
Published: Dec. 13, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2021 at 7:50 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - It has been one week since new laws went into effect aiming to prevent backlogs of unprocessed sexual assault kits and provide victims a tracking system where victims can see the progress of the kits.

Before these laws there was not a system in place.

“We know that back in 2014, they found an enormous amount of kits that that had never been tested, and that was the result of not having that that codification in the law,” Rape Crisis Center Co-Executive Director Dana Pellebon said.

Now, if the survivor reports the incident, officers have 72 hours to collect the kit and then 14 days to send the kit to analysis.

Pellebon said Dane County is piloting a specific tracking system where survivors can know where their kit is through every step of the process.

“When evidence is collected, they will be given access to an online portal and an anonymous way for them to track their kit,” Pellebon said. “We’ve only just received some training on it. But already it feels like a really good program and it’s going to be one that I think will be very beneficial to the survivors here in Wisconsin.”

If the survivor chooses not to report the incident, under this new law, health care providers have 72 hours to send the kit to storage where it will remain for 10 years.

“That is important. Because not every survivor wants to report right away and not every survivor feels like they have the energy or the wherewithal to make all those choices after that assault, so it gives survivors control back we know sexual violence is an act of power and control,” Pellebon said. “So being able to give that power and control back to the survivor is imperative for people to move forward.”

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the national sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673. The Rape Crisis Center also has a 24-hour hotline, you can reach that in English at 608-251-7273 and in Spanish at 608-258-2567.

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