Hope Shattered: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis of Survivors’ Experiences With Untested Rape Kits

Maria Hardeberg Bach*, Courtney Ahrens, Rebecca Howard, Sherisa Dahlgren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Rape survivors who submit to a medical forensic exam generally expect the resulting rape kit to be tested, but hundreds of thousands of rape kits have been left untested in police storage facilities nationwide. The current study sought to understand what the experience of having an untested rape kit was like for survivors. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, this study examined narratives of 15 survivors whose rape kits had been part of the rape kit backlog. Analysis suggested that survivors experience an extreme sense of betrayal and loss of faith in the criminal justice system when their kits are not tested. For these survivors, the rape kit was more than just evidence in a box; it was part of them. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalViolence Against Women
Volume28
Issue number15-16
Pages (from-to)3886-3909
ISSN1077-8012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • medical forensic exam
  • rape kit backlog
  • sexual assault
  • Crime Victims
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Rape
  • Humans
  • Survivors
  • Police

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