Yesterday, Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) learned of a new startup company called the “MeToo Kit”. This product is being advertised as “the first ever sexual assault evidence kit for at home use.”  The company is selling these at a profit, targeting University campuses to have them provided to students instead of receiving a forensic exam from a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (known as SANE exams). Although this idea may have good intentions to support survivors, this kit may cause more harm to sexual assault survivors.

First, this kit does not address the health concerns of the survivor. A free SANE exam offers more than just evidence collection; it is also about providing health care services. During a SANE exam a survivor could be given, if they chose, preventative medications for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. They are also provided proper treatment for any injuries and administered any necessary tests and scans if strangulation has occurred during the assault.

Second, using an in-home kit could perpetuate a feeling of isolation for the survivor and remove them from integral community support agencies. Victim advocacy is one of MESA’s core services. Our victim advocates provide in-person emotional support, psychoeducation and referrals to survivors who go to the hospital for a SANE exam.

Third, this kit does not provide safe or usable evidence. MeToo kits will not be admissible in court as a secure chain of evidence collection because they cannot be verified. Survivors may not know this and could be devastated to later find out that they missed a chance to have physical evidence collected properly.

Campus Advocacy & Prevention Professionals Association (CAPPA) and the International Association of Forensic Nurses have both released statements addressing their concerns about the problematic MeToo Kits. Colleges and Universities are being strongly advised to keep the kits off their campuses and continue encouraging students to go to the hospital for SANE exams, and connect with advocates for further support and assistance.

We all need to collaborate on stopping sexual assault and supporting survivors. If you feel you have helpful ideas or want to help, please reach out to your community sexual violence resource center to consult with them first. Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) Advocates are available 24/7 by calling: 303-443-7300.

-Kenzie Werner