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Survivor Notification

Survivor notification - The process of contacting survivors about the status of their cases and/or sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit results.

Typically, the phrase survivor notification is used when a substantial period of time has passed between when the assault occurred and when law enforcement, advocacy or other professionals attempt to re-contact the survivor -- as is the case with most of these backlog kits.

A multidisciplinary subgroup of the DANY Grant Task Force established the Survivor Notification Protocol to adopt best practices for contacting and communicating with survivors in a trauma-informed, survivor-centered way. It determined that ALL survivors have the right to be notified of the results of their SAFE kit analysis in a prompt, sensitive manner, regardless of the results. This includes kits in which no DNA profiles are obtained.

The group also developed guidelines to help law enforcement and advocates understand how to plan for and conduct notifications in ways that minimize harm to survivors. 

Visit the How-To Guide Page or download the PDF version of the guide

Tips for conducting survivor notifications from Louisville Metro Police Department - LMPD Advocate Nicole Carroll, 2017

Victim Notification and Investigation Best Practice Tips for Law Enforcement - Attorney General's Department of Criminal Investigations, 2016 

Kentucky Notification Protocol - Infographic above

Navigating Notification - A presentation from the Joyful Heart Foundation, May 2016

Notifying Sexual Assault Victims After Testing Evidence - A report from the National Institute of Justice, January 2016

Investigators’ and Prosecutors’ Perceptions of Collaborating With Victim Advocates on Sexual Assault Casework - A 2015 Criminal Justice Policy Review article by D. Cody Gains and William Wells

How to Notify Victims About Sexual Assault Kit Evidence—Insight and Recommendations From Victims and Professionals - A University of Texas Austin report, March 2015

Backlog Victim Notification Protocols - A overview of the research conducted into best practices, KASAP, 2016

Survivor Notification Resources

A study of best practices from across the country found that survivor determination is critical to re-establishing trust between survivors and law enforcement.

Although it might seem cruel to contact survivors if no new information is available, or if no new action will occur, survivors have the right to decide whether they want this information, rather than allowing others to make that decision for them.

Why risk re-traumatizing survivors by contacting them if no prosecution is to occur?