After a rape, the first step toward a conviction — before evidence testing, charges and a trial — is a sexual assault forensic exam. Commonly known as a rape kit, the forensic exam can take anywhere from two to six hours. It addresses victims’ health needs, gives them the opportunity to have evidence collected and connects them to advocates — who often accompany them during exams — and police if they choose. A small fraction of reported rapes make it to trial, and a key piece of determining if a case moves forward is if the victim received a thorough exam shortly after the assault. But in many parts of the United States, as Griffin found out, getting that exam from a specially trained provider is not as simple as walking into the nearest ER.
Nationwide, there is a shortage of medical providers trained to conduct exams — mostly nurses called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), experts say. Few hospitals have robust forensic exam programs and nurses are often on call 24 hours a day to do exams, on top of their other full-time responsibilities. Burnout is high and examiner retention is a consistent problem around the country. Nonprofit programs often struggle with funding, sometimes closing suddenly, while hospitals have little incentive to invest in programs because they do not generate profits.NBC After a sexual assault, where can you get a medical and forensic exam?