At Cosmopolitan, Jillian Keenan reports on Dinisha Ball’s nightmare experience of being denied rape kits in more than one ER, for both legally invalid and “valid” reasons, after being drugged and sexually assaulted in Houston. By the time she was given one, it was shoddy, and too many hours had passed for evidence of the drugging to remain in her blood. Unfortunately, Ball is hardly alone. Not all hospitals are legally compelled to perform them, and very few have trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs).
It’s hard enough for sexual assault survivors to report a rape at all: Only 15.8 to 35 percent of survivors do, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice. (Rape is so woefully underreported that exact statistics are impossible to come by.) And while the rape kit backlog has been well reported — the hundreds of thousands of untested kits sitting in police departments nationwide — what’s lesser-known is that getting a rape kit is not as simple as heading to the nearest emergency room. Once there, survivors are often faced with compounding obstacles to care, from the lack of emergency personnel trained to accurately perform rape kits, to buck-passing between insurers and hospitals around who is billed for that care, to loophole-filled state and federal laws that are often murky and unclear even to legal experts.