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Survivor Shares Experience With Rape Kit Testing

Illinois State Police


For this week’s Illinois Issues, we bring you a story about a measure that would train more nurses how to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault for use in a criminal trial, often referred to as rape kits. NPR Illinois spoke with Melissa Souto about her experience undergoing the testing.

Souto, a 23-year-old Chicago resident, said she was sexually assaulted two years ago on an Illinois college campus. She could not say where since her legal case is pending. Following the incident, Souto decided to get a rape kit.

Despite having an understanding and gentle nurse, Souto said her experience undergoing the testing felt like a nightmare.

“It’s just so invasive and intrusive and it’s the worst because you already feel so disgusted with other people touching you or looking at you after you’ve been raped, that that’s the last thing that you want to do,” Souto said.

Souto said she was raped two years ago in April. She knew her attacker, and the college where the assault happened found him guilty. 

The lab took about a year and a half to process her evidence kit. She got the results back in December of 2017. 

“I know it’s not my place to tell other survivors how to respond to what might have been the worst moment of their lives, but we all need to continue speaking up and telling people this isn’t right,” Souto said. “And I think we need to explain what rape really does. Because a lot of people still believe that rape is just unwanted sex. But rape has nothing to do with sex. It’s all about power.”

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.
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