1. Envelopes. The survivor’s case number and nurse’s notes are written on the envelope after evidence is inserted.
2. Cotton swabs for the vagina (2) the anus (2) and the mouth (2).
Any unused swabs are discarded, and may be used for any orifice that might conceivably contain DNA evidence. Those used are sealed in an envelope, and the nurse notes thereon where on or in the survivor’s body the evidence was collected, with a different envelope for each area of collection. Survivors who have showered or urinated may have less DNA evidence available.
3. A comb for extracting hair samples from the genital area. Stray hair or other genetic material from the perpetrator may be present. Hair is combed, with care not to pull, over white paper and the paper is folded with the hair into another envelope.
4. Wooden sticks for scraping. Often if there is a struggle, the survivors will have pieces of the perpetrator’s skin under his or her fingernails.
5. Piece of paper diagramming different areas of the body. The nurse indicates where on the survivor’s body, if anywhere, bruising, tearing, or bleeding occurs. This is usually completed after the doctor performs a full pelvic to determine if there is any need for medical attention. The advocate may or may not be present at the pelvic depending on the survivor’s preference.
6. Any particularly notable injuries are photographed with a Polaroid camera; the Polaroid is then added to the kit.
7. Paper bags. If the survivor has brought the clothes s/he was wearing at the time of the attack, or is wearing them, those clothes are taken off over a piece of white paper, again, to collect any evidence that may fall off of the clothes. The clothes and the paper are placed in the bag. Paper is preferred to plastic because it allows any organic stains to breathe.
8. Test tube and a sheet of paper, both for blood samples to get the base sample of the survivor’s DNA.
If done correctly, there is an unbroken chain of custody from the attending nurse to the evidence technician. If the kit is done incorrectly or at any time leaves the proper chain of custody (for example, if the nurse goes to the bathroom and leaves the kit unattended), it is inadmissible as evidence and must be started over.
Care is to be taken both during the pelvic and the continued collection of evidence not to re-traumatize the survivors.
After the evidence is collected, if the survivor is a woman and able to become Pregnant, The Morning After pill is administered. All survivors receive treatment for Chlamydia, Syphilis, and Gonorrhea. All blood and urine tests must be repeated in six weeks because those done at the time of the attack give a baseline indicating whether or not the survivor was pregnant or infected at the time of the attack. Many diseases, including Pregnancy, take up to six weeks to surface.
H.V. CRAMOND is the Poetry Editor for and a Co-founder of Requited Journal for Innovative Art and a Writing Instructor at Loyola University Chicago. She holds an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has received grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the City of Chicago’s Community Arts Assistance Program.Her poem “War of Attrition” was a finalist in the 2013 Split This Rock Poetry Festival Contest judged by Mark Doty. Some recent work can be found in Soundless Poetry, Keep Going, Wunderkammer, Ignavia, death hums, and Pandora’s Box (Southport Press, 2011). Read more of her writing at hvcramond.com.