RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Physical evidence recovery kits, or PERKS, can be the difference in prosecuting a rapist and potentially linking an attacker to several crimes.
Last year 8News spoke with a rape survivor who said the kit was essential to her case.
“The only thing that had the evidence we needed was in that kit,” said Debbie Smith.
Currently, the full collection of clothing, urine, and blood for tests is not done on victims who decide at the time not to report the crime to police. A bill headed to the governor’s desk would allow that evidence to be collected without victims deciding to press charges.
“Having this new law where they can do anonymous reporting is very helpful to survivors who may be uncertain if they want to press charges or not,” said Ryan Morris, director of advocacy and outreach at the YWCA.
Morris says the decision to prosecute can be hard for survivors, especially after a traumatic experience.
“It can be very difficult for survivors to be able to make a decision like that,” said Morris.
Lawmakers say important evidence could be destroyed, should victims decide to press charges later without having it collected shortly after the crime.
“The most evidence is going to be around immediately after, or a few days or hours after the assault occurs,” said Morris.
Officials say the bill gives survivors more options and more time.
“Enabling survivors to have the best possible choices available to them,” said Morris.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence, the Greater Richmond Regional Hotline 804-612-6126 is a free, 24/7 confidential resource for survivors of sexual, domestic and intimate partner violence (and their advocates) throughout the region.