To assist jurisdictions working to clear rape kit backlogs with implementing a comprehensive survivor-centered approach for victim notification, Joyful Heart has focused our efforts on researching best practices that are informed by recommendations from experts and survivors’ experiences. Our research includes expert interviews and survivor focus groups.
We have conducted 88 interviews with members of law enforcement, prosecutors, researchers, clinicians, forensic nurse examiners, advocates and policymakers from cities and towns across the country to gain a wide range of personal, professional and expert perspectives on best practices. We also heard from these stakeholders about victim notification practices currently in use and lessons learned in developing those practices.
To ensure that survivors’ voices remain at the center of the recommendations we will ultimately offer to law enforcement and advocacy communities, we are creating an opportunity for survivors to come together for guided discussions about their experiences with notification in a safe, healing and empowering environment. We will conduct focus group sessions in Los Angeles with survivors who reported their sexual assaults and whose rape kits were part of the city’s backlog. Our goal is to hear directly from survivors about what does and does not work for victim notification and their recommendations for jurisdictions working to end the backlog.
We will compile all of our findings in a forthcoming report, which will serve as the first comprehensive resource on how communities can approach victim notification. We invite you to check back in the spring of 2014, when we plan to publish our findings.