Target: Robin Vos, Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly
Goal: Provide rape survivors with access to medical evaluations and care.
Hospitals that are able to analyze rape kits are few and far between in Wisconsin, and survivors must often travel great distances to get these valuable and time-sensitive evaluations. This is despite the fact that rape is undoubtedly one of the most traumatic events a person can endure, both mentally and physically. Sign the petition and urge the Wisconsin Assembly to pass legislation to address the issue.
Patients may have to travel up to 80 miles in Wisconsin to reach the nearest hospital with the resources and staff to perform a rape kit. The distance and time involved pose several difficulties for survivors, some mental and some physical.
After their ordeal, many victims simply want to go home or be someplace where they feel safe and comfortable, not drive for over an hour to another hospital for more invasive questions and procedures. There is also the time-sensitive nature of the procedure; urination will wash away valuable evidence, so victims cannot use the bathroom until the kit has been performed.
The reason for the dearth of rape kit providers in Wisconsin has a lot to do with expenses. While hospitals are reimbursed by the state for the kits themselves, there are many other costs associated with the kits that are non-reimbursable. Additionally, the tests must be performed by specially-trained nurses and the turnover rate is high, largely due to compassion fatigue.
Despite these issues, there are several clear-cut ways that Wisconsin can support victims of sexual assault. Sign our petition to urge legislators to allot funding for training programs for nurses, hiring coordinators to help mitigate the stressful effect on caregivers, and financial incentives for more hospitals to offer rape kits.
Dear Mr. Speaker,
I am writing to urge you to prioritize the health of rape survivors in Wisconsin. Many survivors, after already experiencing what may be the most traumatic event of their lives, are left high and dry after their ordeals, unable to access vital medical evaluations and support. I urge you to allot funds to build a better support network for both survivors and their caregivers.
Very few hospitals in Wisconsin offer the medical evaluations known as rape kits; some survivors may have to drive up to 80 miles to reach a hospital that can perform such tests. With the delay comes a deterioration in evidence. Urination, for instance, will wash away valuable genetic information. Furthermore, many victims decide that the long drive only to be further poked and prodded is simply not worth it. The loss of evidence due to these circumstances could result in further rapes. In the words of Attorney General Brad Schimel, “If an offender gets away with an act like this, they do it again.”
The shortage of hospitals willing or able to perform rape kits has a lot to do with financial considerations; while hospitals are reimbursed for the rape kits by the state, there are many other associated costs not eligible for reimbursement. I urge you to consider covering more or all of these costs, or to provide other financial incentives to hospitals to perform rape kits. In many cases, these kits may act as a preventative measure, identifying offenders and thereby limiting the possibility of future attacks–and expenses.
I also urge you to allot funds for hiring and training both nurses and program coordinators. Rape kits require specially-trained nurses, but the turnover rate is high due to the incredibly upsetting nature of the work. Good program coordinators can act as resources, sounding boards, and counselors, preventing burnout and compassion fatigue.
Please consider the health and well-being of rape survivors in Wisconsin and take measures to address these problems with the state’s response to rape.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Sgt. Rebecca Linder