End The Backlog

Victim Notification

“Creating a survivor-centered and trauma-informed approach to notification is key to gaining trust and re-engaging victims whose rape kits were not tested and whose cases were not pursued by the criminal justice system.” – Dr. Rebecca Campbell, Michigan State University 

We are proud to present: Navigating Notification: A Guide to Re-engaging Sexual Assault Survivors Affected by the Untested Rape Kit Backlog. This report, generously underwritten by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, will help communities working to eliminate their backlogs of untested rape kits create survivor-centered, trauma-informed policies and protocols for victim notification.

Since 2010, the Joyful Heart Foundation has made the elimination of the rape kit backlog—hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits across the country—a top priority. In recent years, states and local jurisdictions have started to process the untested rape kits in their police and crime lab storage facilities and to take steps toward eliminating their rape kit backlogs. As they process kits, they are faced with the question of how to re-engage survivors whose cases are often years— sometimes decades—old in a manner that is not re-traumatizing, can enhance the probability that a survivor will engage with the criminal justice system, and will increase the likelihood that a survivor will access the support services they need and deserve.

Given the lack of scholarly research examining and suggesting best practices for victim notification, Joyful Heart partnered with researcher Dr. Courtney Ahrens of California State University at Long Beach to bring together the voices of over 90 survivors and criminal justice, medical, academic, clinical and advocacy professionals to establish a set of best practice recommendations for victim notification.