The Secret History of the Rape Kit

Woman learning about her history

Wikipedia – A rape kit (also known as a sexual assault kit (SAK), a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFEkit, a sexual assault evidence collection kit (SAECK), a sexual offense evidence collection (SOECkit, or a physical evidence recovery kit (PERK)[1]) is a package of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault. The evidence collected from the victim can aid the criminal rape investigation and the prosecution of a suspected assailant.

Occasionally available worldwide, and just as occasionally used as part of sexual assault prosecutions, themselves extremely rare, this history of the “invention” of the rape kit in the United States in the 1970s is an important milestone in the history of sexual assaults because it moved the reporting and investigation of assault from “she said” to physical evidence.

The writer takes us back to the time when there was no thought of evidence with regard to sexual assault; only the perceived truthfulness or honorable (virgin) state of the victim was important. Parts of this history are still with us today. Click on the title below to read now, or download print or save to your device.