Advocates Want Rape Kits Available in More Hospitals

Only two Dallas County hospitals have trained sexual assault nurse examiners

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Out of 47 hospitals in Dallas County, only two have nurses trained to perform rape kids, but advocates are hoping to change that. (Published Tuesday, Oct 23, 2012)

    Sexual assault survivors and their advocates want more Dallas County hospitals to have nurse examiners who can perform rape kits.

    Only two of the county's 47 hospitals -- Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and Parkland Hospital -- have trained sexual assault nurse examiners.

    Courtney Underwood, who trains nurses to be sex assault examiners, said all hospitals need to have the service.

    "It's an enormous slap in the face -- not that it's the hospitals' fault, but that's how that victim is going to feel," she said.

    The Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship Church hosted a meeting for survivors, advocates and law enforcement officials looking to expand services to Dallas County's southern sector hospitals.

    Rape kits allow for evidence to be saved up to two years, giving victims time to decide if they want to pursue prosecution. Trained examiners are also able to immediately start the counseling process, giving victims dignity and hope in the moment they need it most.

    "We'll put together three- to five-year plans where Safer Dallas Better Dallas will get them (hospitals) all the funding they need to create these programs, and we'll train the staff," Underwood said.

    Sexual assault survivor Tiffany Jackson, who now counsels other survivors, said expanding rape kits to other hospitals is a countywide issue that affects men and women. It was especially important when dealing with children who may not feel comfortable and may not have transportation, she said.

    "They may say, 'I'm not able to get out there, so why even bother?'" she said.

    Advocates say they hope to see Dallas County's two southern sector hospitals offer rape kits by next fall.