This second episode of the season called “Perspectives on At-Home Sexual Assault Kits” in the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) Just Science podcast series, Monica Gardner, a former rape crisis center team advocate and a survivor of sexual abuse as both a child and adult, discusses at-home sexual assault kits from a survivor’s perspective.
An introductory note for the interview states that Monica Gardner knows from experience that healing isn’t linear. She shares her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, thoughts of self-harm, anxiety, and depression. She addresses the importance of therapy during the healing process and offers her perspective on at-home sexual assault kits performed without medical assistance or guidance. Monica notes that at-home kits give survivors the opportunity to proceed at their own pace without having to explain personal feelings, thoughts, and anxieties to a stranger. The private kits also provide survivors the time to think about how they want to proceed regarding their personal needs and whether they want to involve the police. Although noting the advantages of at-home sexual assault kits, Monica does not support their sale, because of issues of contaminated evidence and the improper handling of evidence produces stressful problems if the survivor chooses participation in criminal justice processing of the case. Her preferred approach in managing sexual assault cases is to provide trained advocates for survivors to prepare them for the hospital experience and accompany them through the process to provide information, answer questions, and guide them to services that meet their needs.