On The Lookout: Healing Process For Sexual Violence Victims - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

On The Lookout: Healing Process For Sexual Violence Victims

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WICOMICO CO., Md. - Forensic nurse examiner Eunice Esposito unwraps oral swabs from a rape kit, a necessary step in discovering a potential sexual assault culprit.

According to Esposito, victims have up to five days from when an assault occurs to collect DNA.

Once DNA is collected, swabs are dried, and the evidence is stored for up to two years.

Wicomico County state's attorney Matt Maciarello says "if you have the victims story, if you have the biological evidence and you also have other physical evidence that the forensic nurse examiner was able to document,  that is a pretty strong case."

Esposito says the kit will only be handed over to investigators if victims want to file charges. It's just one of dozens of questions victims of rape are asked in a four hour span. Questions that include: do you need medications? plan B? safety concerns? should police be called? and, a possible forensic collection?

Esposito says each patient reacts differently.

"They might not sleep the next night," said Esposito. "All of a sudden, they wake up and are like, 'you know what, I dont know who I can talk to."

"The predators that are usually responsible for these kinds of things, look for the areas that the victims could be vulnerable,  the places they might be that they are vulnerable," said Sgt. David Owens of WBI.

Sexual trauma therapist Dee Copeland says healing is a long road.

"A lot of victims do struggle with guilt and they blame themselves and sometimes society and culture will victim blame," said Copeland.

A majority of victims Copeland says she speaks with tend to deal with depression, low-self worth, anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks. Not one problem the same, says Copeland.

"Victims need to know that they are supported that they are going to be believed and taken seriously," said Copeland.

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