U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Just Science: Just the Evolution of Sexual Assault Evidence Collection

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2019
2 pages

This episode of the Just Science podcast series honors Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) with an interview of Dr. Pat Speck, a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and professor at the University of Alabama - Birmingham School of Nursing, who discusses sexual assault testing and victim-centered care, along with her research, the importance of trauma-informed care, and the evolution of sexual assault evidence collection.


After reviewing Dr. Speck's professional background as a nurse practitioner and involvement in the work of multidisciplinary sexual assault teams (SARTs), she discusses the professional training and experience of nurses that conditions them to be victim (patient)-centered in their treatment of sexual assault victims. In the context of the work of SARTs, the nurse practitioner also provides input into how various aspects of the criminal investigation can be more respectful of victim perspectives and their traumatic experience; for example, police interviews of the victim should communicate that the interviewer believes the victim and the investigation will proceed accordingly. Other issues discussed include the impact of DNA-centered investigations on interactions with victims who delay reporting a sexual assault. Issues in research on sexual assault cases and the backlog of untested sexual assault kits are also discussed.

Date Published: April 1, 2019