Oklahoma's attorney general plans to send cease and desist letters to companies in New Jersey and New York that market do-it-yourself sexual assault kits that victims can use to gather evidence at home.
Mike Hunter says the kits are of no value and could discourage victims from coming forward and would not be admissible in court.
Experts say they don't want an RN at an emergency room doing a sexual assault exam because it needs to be done by someone who is specially trained and has a lot of experience, which is why they created SANE exams. So, if they don't want an RN at an ER doing the exam, they certainly don't want someone doing it at home.
Sexual assault exams are typically done in private rooms away from crowds in a hospital. Collecting evidence like hairs and semen is part of an exam. They also treat injuries, offer emergency contraception and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. An advocate is there for support and can offer counseling, do a danger assessment and offers options to keep the victim safe from their attacker.
Sexual assault nurses are specially trained in trauma and often find evidence, others would miss.
"Victims may not be thinking about sweat, which is one of those things that can transfer and they might not think where that might've dropped, where a sexual assault occurred," said Kathy Bell, a sexual assault nurse examiner.
Bell has been a sexual assault nurse examiner since 1974 and is highly regarded for her work. She is worried about the instructions given in these home kits and the tools provided. She says kits must be kept in very specific temperature and humidity conditions and to be used in court, it must be documented who touched the kit and who had access to it.
"From a safety reason, that's a big concern of mine," Bell said.
If victims don’t want to give their name, they can still get the exam done and it will be stored securely and properly until the statute of limitations expires, 12 years later, just in case the victim ever changes their mind and wants to pursue the case in court during that time.
Bell said at-home kits should never be used on a child. Any suspected sexual abuse of a child must be reported.
"There are even more specific ways evidence is collected with children and the appropriate way without hurting or harming the child," Bell said.
If you need a sexual assault exam, call the DVIS crisis line at 918-7HELPME (918-743-5763). You can get one done by a professional and if you don't want to give your name or ever be contacted again, they will respect that.