Advocates hopeful now that North Carolina's sexual assault kit backlog has been cleared

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Thursday, April 11, 2024
Advocates hopeful after sexual assault kit backlog has been cleared
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday that the backlog of sexual assault kits in the state had been cleared.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- When North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday that the backlog of sexual assault kits in the state had been cleared, advocates were optimistic and hopeful.

Genevieve Lynch-Sachs was there Tuesday as the news broke. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she's a registered nurse, a certified hospice and palliative care nurse, and a sexual assault nurse examiner, also known as a SANE nurse.

She works with InterAct's Solace Center, providing rape crisis services, and collecting evidence for sexual assault kits.

As someone who regularly works closely with victims of sexual assault, Lynch-Sachs told ABC11 that she was hopeful this announcement would indicate continued support and prioritization of the care of sexual assault survivors.

"It's indicating sort of a holistic approach and a support financially for a multi-disciplinary approach to the care of survivors," she said.

While this is a big step, she said there is more work to be done.

Lynch-Sachs hopes the government ensures further and continued funding for rape crisis centers.

She also hopes that more nurses will consider becoming SANE-certified and that educational institutions and hospitals will encourage that.

"I think also opportunities for training, opportunities for hands-on clinical preceptorship, I think opportunities for growth in that way are critical," Lynch-Sachs said.

She commended law enforcement, like the Raleigh Police Department, on how they handle sexual assault cases, and she hopes they continue the approach.

"I've had really great experiences personally with law enforcement in my area in terms of how trauma-informed they are in their responses to survivors," Lynch-Sachs said. "I think continuing to train and to foster their understanding of trauma-informed interviewing, trauma-informed care, and starting from a position of belief of survivors is critical."

While Lynch-Sachs made clear that the decision to report belongs to the survivor alone, she hopes the cleared backlog will provide an additional piece of comfort to those who are on the fence about reporting the crime.

She also wants to emphasize that North Carolinians can seek help from a rape crisis center for care and even evidence collection while remaining anonymous.

Once a kit is collected, it can be stored anonymously without the knowledge of law enforcement. If or when a survivor decides to report, their name becomes attached to the kit, and law enforcement will then begin to investigate.

Survivors can take all the time they need to make the decision, as there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault in North Carolina.

For more information about InterAct's Solace Center, click here.