Forensic Examinations – Rape Kits

First Steps

Your safety is the top priority. If you are in danger, immediately call 911. Your first instinct may be to take a shower and clean yourself. It is critical that you do not shower or bathe, brush your teeth, change your clothing, or wash your hands. If possible, do not go to the bathroom, eat, drink, or take medication unless it is necessary for your health. Your body and clothing may contain critical evidence if you choose to have a forensic examination.

Reporting to Law Enforcement/Police

The SANE will supply copies of all pertinent forensic reports, immediately upon completion to the police agency responsible for investigating. The evidence will be retrieved from this facility by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The evidence will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for processing. Evidence processing may take several months to complete, however, each case is unique. If this is the process you wish to take you can contact law enforcement first or Victim Service Center through the 24/7 Helpline (407) 500-HEAL to begin.

Non-Reporting (Having a forensic exam without reporting to law enforcement/police)

Non-reported evidence will not be tested until the victim reports the incident to the police. The evidence is stored as a non-report (under a number) in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office or Osceola County Sheriff’s Office depending on the jurisdiction. Non reported evidence does not contain your name. If you wish to proceed with this process you may contact Victim Service Center through the 24/7 Helpline (407) 500-HEAL.

What is a Forensic Examination or Rape Kit?

A sexual assault forensic collection (also known as “rape kit”) is used to gather evidence that has been left in or on the body, following a sexual assault. Evidence can be collected up to 5 days (120 hours) following a sexual assault. A forensic evidence collection cannot determine if a sexual encounter was consensual or not. It cannot determine if a victim was raped. We encourage everyone to call the 24/7 Helpline (407) 500-HEAL to ask any questions they may have if they are considering having a rape kit done. You do not have to report the incident to law enforcement to receive a forensic examination, it simply provides you the option to report later.

What is most important to know about accessing a forensic exam?

If you are considering having an exam done, time is essential to the collection of the most evidence. Your first instinct may be to take a shower and clean yourself. It is critical that you do not shower or bathe, brush your teeth, change your clothing, or wash your hands. If possible, do not go to the bathroom, eat, drink, or take medication unless it is necessary for your health. Your body and clothing may contain critical evidence if you choose to have a forensic examination.

Call the VSC Helpline to ask any questions about your situation and the exam at (407) 500-HEAL.

Your safety is the top priority. If you are in danger, immediately call 911.

When can I have a forensic exam done?

Within 120 hours of the sexual assault a forensic exam can be performed. This can be conducted any time of day or night to support those who have been victimized and are in crisis. For assistance contact our 24/7 our crisis helpline, 407-500-HEAL.

Who conducts the exam?

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a registered nurse who is trained to look for signs of sexual assault and collect and certify forensic evidence. Whether you report to police or not, if you consent to the forensic exam, the SANE will perform all necessary collections, procedures, tests, examinations, photography, and preventative treatment. SANEs can also testify in any legal proceedings related to the examination.

Who is a Victim Advocate/Sexual Assault Counselor?

At VSC they are a Masters level crisis counselor who guides and supports each victim before, during, and after the examination. They are instrumental in providing each victim the support, empowerment, information, and tools essential to recovery and healing. They can assist by helping to create a safety plan, providing information, referrals for additional services, and most importantly the support needed to make decisions at this difficult time. A victim advocate will accompany a victim during their forensic exam to provide emotional support throughout the process. In Florida this is provided to a victim of sexual assault completely confidential through Florida statute 90.5035.

What will the SANE do?

The SANE will ask for you to consent to each part of the forensic examination, and they will collect medical forensic history, a detailed physical and emotional assessment, written/electronic and photographic documentation, and collection and management of forensic samples.

Is there a cost to have an exam?

There is no cost associated with having a forensic exam done or with any follow up services provided by VSC. You will not be asked to provide any insurance information at any point.

Where is the forensic exam done?

The Victim Service Center operates two Confidential Forensic Exam locations, one in Orange County and one in Osceola County. In the event a sexual assault occurs and the victim chooses to have forensic DNA evidence collected, they will go to either the Sexual Assault Treatment Center (Orange County) or the Care Center (Osceola County). Both the Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC) and the Care Center are generously donated by Advent Health. It is our goal to ensure each victim feel as comfortable and safe as possible in our facilities, so we strive to offer a private, confidential and calm environment. At times if an individual requires hospitalization a forensic exam may be performed by VSC SANE within the medical hospital setting.

Both the Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC) and the Care Center are generously donated by Advent Health.

What happens if I want to report my sexual assault to law enforcement?

The SANE will supply copies of all pertinent forensic reports, immediately upon completion to the police agency responsible for investigating. The evidence will be retrieved from this facility by the appropriate law enforcement agency. The evidence will be sent to FDLE for processing. Evidence processing may take several months to complete, however each case is different and unique, so time frames may vary.

What if I don’t want to report my sexual assault at this time?

You can have evidence collected as a non-report. If you decide to report to police at a later date. It is your decision. Non-reported evidence will not be tested until the victim reports the incident to the police. The evidence is stored as a non-report (under a number) in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office or Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, depending upon the jurisdiction. Non reported evidence does not contain your name, only a number. You can discuss the statute of limitations with the victim advocate who is supporting you throughout your exam and during ongoing services after with VSC.

What happens when I want to report at a later date?

You must sign a waiver to allow your kit to be tested when you are ready.

What happens to my kit after I consent to reporting and complete the reporting process with law enforcement?

For individuals who report to police, their forensic collection samples will be sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE),  who processes the evidence and can determine if the presence of DNA, (possibly from an assailant) exists. Foreign DNA, which is found to be from an unknown or unconsented source, may indicate that a sexual assault took place.

Does VSC provide medical assistance?

All individuals are offered basic first aid by the SANE including emergency contraceptives and referrals to other agencies for follow up medical care and HIV preventative services as needed. If the extent of medical care requires assistance by hospital staff, VSC staff will provide forensic and crisis counseling services within a hospital environment.

 

Who can have a forensic exam?

For any questions regarding forensic exams, call 407-500-HEAL. Generally, if you are over the age of 12, and live in Orange or Osceola Counties, a VSC Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner will conduct the forensic examination. For individuals under the age of 12, the examination in Orange and Osceola Counties is performed by the Children’s Advocacy Center.  In Seminole County it is Kids House for individuals under the age of 18.

 

 

What is a Rape Crisis Center?

There can only be one Rape Crisis Center per county certified by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence to provide sexual assault services. Victim Service Center is the certified Rape Crisis Center for Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties. In Orange and Osceola Counties we serve victims ages 12 and older with forensic examinations, emotional support, and crisis counseling  completely confidential during healing process. In Seminole County we provide accompaniment to forensic services at the request of the victim for confidential crisis counseling to assist in the healing process. This certification as a confidential crisis counseling source for victims of sexual assault is designated through Florida statute 90.5035.

 If you have been a victim of a sexual assault and would like to speak with a Victim Advocate, please call our free confidential Sexual Assault Helpline at (407) 500-HEAL.

NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES

Please note: The Victim Service Center provides significant protection of communications between a client and VSC staff. Clients are able to confide in VSC Victim Advocates, Therapists, and all VSC staff members, knowing that communication is confidential and will not be disclosed publicly unless they consent to such disclosure. For further information, please contact VSC directly.