To effectively combat rape and sexual assault in the U.S., an integrated response system and services infrastructure is required.
- Health care providers must screen for sexual assault.
- Services should be trauma-informed (respectful of patients as survivors, maximizing survivor control over recovery, respecting need for safety, emphasizing strengths, minimizing re-traumatization, and providing culturally competent services).
- Funding for sexual assault programs should be increased to provide more immediate and long-term support for victims of sexual assault.
- Insurers should be required to cover treatment of sexual trauma as a reimbursable mental health service.
- The FBI should proceed with all deliberate speed to implement the change in the definition of rape in the Uniform Crime report so that accurate data about the true incidence of serious sex crimes can be reported to the public and appropriate resources directed to combat this violent crime.
- Leadership organizations such as the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), and the National Sheriffs’ Association must identify systemic gender bias in the handling of sex crimes and take steps to ensure local police authorities have effective policies, procedures, and training programs to improve their response to sex crimes.
- Local, State and federal police authorities should adopt policies that require full documentation and investigation of sex crime complaints, prohibit polygraphs, and require supervisory review for proper crime classification and unfounding.
- Local, state, and federal police authorities should implement training programs on victim behavior, interview techniques, and how to respond to victims of sexual assault.
Pennsylvania General Assembly
- In 2012 Pennsylvania adopted a new law which allows for expert testimony in criminal cases involving sexual offenses. This law permits the prosecution or the defense to call experts who, because of their “experience with, or specialized training or education in, criminal justice, behavioral sciences or victim services,” can help juries and judges understand “the dynamics of sexual violence, victim responses to sexual violence and the impact of sexual violence on victims during and after being assaulted.”
- More resources must be allocated to victim services to increase the availability of counseling and advocacy services, free pregnancy counseling, and confidential testing for HIV/AIDs and STIs.