ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Unreported rape kits are only kept for a short time before being destroyed. That’s not giving survivors enough time to come forward to law enforcement.
“The best way I can describe this is a living nightmare. One that forever changes how you see the world,” Abby Haglage, New York State Organizer for Rise, said.
Haglage describes the assault that came out of nowhere, leaving her feeling pain and confusion. She also describes that next step, the courage it took to come forward to be given a rape kit test.
“When your body has just been used as a weapon, the last thing you want is more people touching it, but the thing is I did it anyway.”
Haglage says that she, like many victims, needed time to heal both physically and mentally, but when she gained the confidence to come forward to the police with her rape kit, it was no longer there.
“A detective told me that my rape kit had been destroyed. I hadn’t been given so much as a phone call. That’s how it’s done in New York they said.”
Right now, rape kits are only maintained for 30 days by hospitals before being destroyed. A group of legislators is introducing a set of three bills that would aim to change this. It would allow for rape kits that have not been reported to the police to be maintained for two years in one centralized location, allow victims to keep track of their kits, and ensure victims are never billed for their exams.
“If a sexual assault survivor is submitting their bodies to be examined then these kits should not be destroyed,” Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) said.
Legislators say they will be pushing for the passage of these bills this year.