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Notifying Sexual Assault Victims After Testing Evidence

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2016
20 pages

This report presents two sample protocols for notifying sexual assault victims of the results of the delayed testing of evidence in their sexual assault kits (SAKs), based on the work of multidisciplinary teams that were part of NIJ (National Institute of Justice) grants to Detroit, MI, and Houston, TX, for the purpose of developing plans to manage previously untested SAK evidence.


These protocols and their development process may assist other jurisdictions that are considering how best to notify sexual assault victims of the results of their SAK testing. Using a victim-centered approach for notifying sexual assault victims of the status of their cases and associated SAK evidence may help minimize the trauma victims experience when receiving this type of information, particularly in older cases with delayed SAK testing. "Victim-centered" means that the victim's needs and interests are the focus of all decisions regarding case processing by the criminal justice system. The protocols presented are also "trauma-informed," which means they are attentive to the victim's emotional and physical safety, which means using resources, services, and support that increase the victim's capacity to recover from emotional and physical harms caused by her/his victimization. The protocols also involve educating victims, service providers, and the general public about the impact of sexual-assault trauma on the health and well-being of the victim. Based on the lessons learned from the development of the protocols in Detroit and Houston, recommendations are outlined to guide other jurisdictions in the development of similar protocols. Resources for additional information are listed.

Date Published: January 1, 2016