Misleading Marketing Behind “DIY” Sexual Assault Kits

Asia Nhatavong, justice-involved advocacy coordinator at the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, outlines the contents of state-provided sexual assault kits at Connecticut’s Legislative Office Building

The Alliance is joined by state Attorney General William Tong in questioning the development and marketing of “do-it-yourself” sexual assault kits to be sold online by companies such as MeToo Kits and The Preserve Group.

While these kits are touted as a way to give a victim a chance to collect evidence in the privacy of their own home, there’s no guarantee that the evidence would be admissible in court during a criminal prosecution.

Once a sexual assault kit is opened, an array of protocols — including documented custody of the kit and oversight by a certified SAFE (sexual assault forensic examiner) nurse —  must be met in order for it to be used as evidence in court.

These “at home” kits threaten to re-victimize a person seeking justice when they learn that the steps they took to document the crime, may not be admissible as evidence in court.

“The Alliance has grave concerns that a company purporting to support victims/survivors of sexual abuse are promoting their product as a bonafide and safe outcome of the #metoo movement,” said Lucy Nolan, director of policy and public relations at the Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

“Institutions could be in the position to ignore the result of the kits, silencing both the victim and the attack. We urge the targets of this marketing campaign, the higher education community and individuals, not to engage with the MeToo Kit,” Nolan said.

The Alliance seeks to remind the public that sexual assault kits are available free of charge from any emergency room across the state and are currently the most secure way of documenting evidence if one decides to use a kit to pursue legal justice. In addition, a victim who seeks to go through with a sexual assault kit examination will be equipped with an advocate to support them during a vulnerable process and notify them of all resources available to them. 

“The Alliance has grave concerns that a company purporting to support victims/survivors of sexual abuse are promoting their product as a bonafide and safe outcome of the #metoo movement. Institutions could be in the position to ignore the result of the kits, silencing both the victim and the attack. We urge the targets of this marketing campaign, the higher education community and individuals, not to engage with the MeToo Kit,” Nolan said.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong sent to letters to separate companies seeking to sell the “do-it-yourself” kits after the issue was brought to his attention by the Ct Alliance to End Sexual Violence. Tong brings concerns that the business practices may be unfair or deceptive and may violate the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.

You can read a full version of the letters sent by AG Tong to PRESERVEkit by clicking here as well as the letter sent to MeTooKits by clicking here.

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