MADISON, Wis. – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team, announced the By Your Side campaign to support survivors of sexual assault. The By Your Side campaign is designed to reach out to all sexual assault survivors who had a sexual assault kit collected as the result of a sexual assault nurse exam.
Any survivor who had a kit collected and do not know if their kit was tested for the presence of DNA evidence can call 1-800-446-6564 or go to ByYourSideWI.org to initiate the process of locating their kits and exploring options for DNA testing. Survivors will also be connected with support services.
“The criminal justice system relies on the courage of sexual assault survivors to catch perpetrators of sexual assault,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “The Department of Justice, WCASA, and our partners around the state want survivors to know that we are here to support and empower them through this process. We will be by your side every step of the way.”
“WCASA has been working with the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Response Team since 2012 to address the lack of standardized procedures for handling evidence from medical forensic exams, known as rape kits,” stated Pennie Meyers, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA). “It is important to remember that behind each kit is a sexual assault survivor. Thus, we have approached this daunting task in a trauma-informed and victim-centered manner from the very beginning.”
Connecting victim services with survivors through the By Your Side campaign is critical to empowering survivors, and fulfilling DOJ and WCASA’s victim-centered approach to testing untested kits. The By Your Side campaign theme and messaging was developed by WCASA, who solicited feedback from survivors of sexual assault from across the state on how best to share the message that services are available for those with untested kits.