It’s hard to believe but true. After suffering through traumatic sexual assault, you could immediately be violated again, depending on where you live.  Some states are charging for rape kits (sexual assault forensic exams) and other services related to the treatment and investigation of sexual assaults.

The federal Violence Against Women Act requires states to incur the full out-of-pocket cost or lose federal funding.  Sounds protective, but there is no definitive plan of action for how states are to pay these expenses and the result is often confusion and incorrect billing procedures. In short, faulty systems in place are leaving survivors with added stress during a time that should be meant for healing.

One such example is Elyse Mofo Anders, who defiantly refuses to pay for what the hospital is now calling a charge for visiting the ER. The only reason she visited the ER was to be seen after being raped.  Shouldn’t charges for her hospital visit fall under the umbrella of the state’s responsibility?  Remember, the state is required to pay for full out-of-pocket expenses for sexual assault forensic exams. Seems pretty straightforward.

We do not need added reasons to conceal a sexual assault — research consistently shows the majority of these incidences go unreported.  Adding the possibility of financial burden and/or fighting with a collection agency is only another deterrent.  Nothing could compare to the violation that brings a woman to the point of needing a rape kit, but the slap in the face of being billed for these services is nothing less than a second violation.
You can take action to encourage Congress to make changes that better support survivors by signing this petition. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) suggests contacting your local sexual assault service provider or state coalition if you have questions about your own bill.