Social workers are responsible for ensuring the well-being and health of people they support, as well as advocating for changes in society that better accommodate different individuals. Such an effort is especially important when dealing with issues of sexual abuse and trauma. As a social worker discussing the topic of policy change, I would want to turn attention to the issue of forensic evidence. Discussed in the “Rita’s Case”, some states have a 90-day limit on submitting test results as evidence to the police (Working With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma: The Case of Rita). I want to make changes to this practice, as it presents a large problem for victims of sexual abuse and violence, limiting their response time to a small timeframe. Trauma from being taken advantage of affects all aspects of a person’s life, and can pose a significant challenge in the instance of criminal procedures. Giving victims more time to receive counseling and recover would contribute to their well-being considerably. In Rita’s case, recovery took her 5 months, after which she was ready to file a police report.
Extending the time limit on submitting forensic evidence or removing it entirely would be greatly beneficial to Rita, as her evidence would become eligible for the case. Another change I would want to see implemented is the elimination of the rape kit backlog. Stored rape kits should be submitted into testing to assist in identifying and bringing rapists to justice (Comprehensive Rape Kit Reform). As it stands, many of the kits lie unused, affecting crime trial and prevention efforts (FACT SHEET: Investments to Reduce the National Rape Kit Backlog and Combat Violence Against Women, 2015). This approach would allow the government to honor the dignity of abuse victims and allow them the best option to hold the perpetrators responsible. In regards to evaluating whether the policy of adjusting the time limit on submitting forensic evidence is effective, a number of things can be considered. Policy’s success depends on whether it had been cost-effective, consistently produced an intended outcome (i.e. increased the amount of submitted forensic evidence), adhered to the law, and relevantly approached the issue of helping sexual abuse victims.
Comprehensive Rape Kit Reform. End the Backlog. Web.
Working With Survivors of Sexual Abuse and Trauma: The Case of Rita [PDF].