Attorney General Mark Herring issued a warning about newly launched products that allow sexual assault survivors to collect their own forensic evidence without going to a doctor or law enforcement.
“We know there are newly launched products and we think it’s important for Virginians to know that there are serious concerns about them,” Herring told 8News Tuesday morning.
Herring says it’s important to give survivors a choice, but says the use of the kits may prevent them from getting important healthcare resources and emotional support.
“We think that this really could be counterproductive, and maybe harmful because it may stop a survivor from getting important medical treatment,” Herring said. “Tests for infectious diseases or pregnancy, and leave out the mental health and other emotional and support services that are critical for a survivor to get back on a path of healing and recovery.”
A product Herring directly names in a release is the ‘MeToo Kit.’ He warns that using kits like these may make it hard for survivors in court to use concrete evidence due to the ‘chain of custody issues.’
According to the website, survivors are able to collect evidence on their own by swabbing certain areas and then spitting into the provided container.
The MeToo Kit is not on the market, but the website asks visitors to enter their information and join a waiting list.
The attorney general says he has been working to change the conversation of sexual violence in the Commonwealth by providing more in-depth training and nearly eliminating the rape kit backlog.
“Health professionals, law enforcement professionals and others in truly survivor centered, trauma informed responses so that they will feel comfortable, and they know they will get the support that they need,” Herring said.