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A kit to comfort victims at Albany Med

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By Kassie Parisi

Managing Editor

[email protected]

April 28, 2015

The University at Albany is teaming up with Albany Medical Center to create and deliver 200 comfort kits, coined “survival kits,” to victims who have gone through forensic testing after being sexually assaulted.

The project, titled “We Care,” will consist of individual packages that contain small comforts, including clothing, toiletries, journals, hairbrushes, personal notes from the packers to the victims, and teddy bears.

Volunteers will make the packages, which will then be delivered to Albany Medical Center by the Five Quad Ambulance service and Albany County EMS.

“The We Care project, planned to heighten awareness of April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was supported by Albany Medical Center and the University at Albany with the support of community partners Rite Aid, Walmart, W.B. Mason, and CVS,” according to a press release.

The optional forensic examination is commonly referred to as a rape kit, and is used by investigators to collect any DNA samples that may lead them to finding the perpetrator. The examinations are performed by medical professionals who have been specially trained, but the process can be invasive for a victim.

“Victims are now allowed more time to decide whether to pursue their case, a decision that can be difficult to make at the time of the attack,” according to the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). However, the statute of limitations for reporting a sexual assault varies from state to state, and waiting to report a case or receive an examination might lower the chances of apprehending the perpetrator.

In an effort to increase sexual assault prevention and awareness on campus, UAlbany instituted its own Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence on Jan. 22, 2014. Before the Advocacy Center, UAlbany offered support for sexual assault through the Counseling Center.

The Advocacy Center specifically provides victims of sexual assault with a safe place to receive support and guidance, whether they received the forensic examination or not.

The point of the Advocacy Center, according to Director Carol Stenger, is to give victims a place where they can feel like they’re safe and at home, as opposed to being in a doctor’s office. It provides protocol training for all students and faculty who want to become a confidant for victims, and has other programs as well, including assistance in dealing with STD diagnoses.

The Advocacy Center also encourages sexual assault victims to report the incident in any way that they feel comfortable and provides multiple ways to do so, including reporting it confidentially, or reporting it to other university personnel.

“Especially in the case of sexual assault, but even in interpersonal violence to a large degree, all of your control is taken away,” Stenger said before to the ASP. “I want to put the control back in that person right away. These are all your choices, these are all your decisions.”

The Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence can be reached at (518) 442-CARE.

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