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Sexual Assault Victims’ Experiences of Notification after a CODIS Hit

Publish Date
March 2015
This report provides research results about Houston's victim notification process. In Houston, victim notification involves reestablishing contact with victims whose cases are reopened for investigation as a result of a match in the law enforcement database Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), from
victims’ recently tested sexual assault kits (SAKs).This action research assesses the implementation of the Complainant Notification and Hotline Protocols
by interviewing a small number of victims about their experience with notification by Houston Police Department investigators and the justice advocate, an advocate for victims.
The data analysis revealed multiple themes from victims’ notification experience, including:
  • Victims appreciated having more choice/control.
  • The time lapse had an important effect on their experience of moving on from the assault.
  • Several victims were trying to make meaning of their experience.
  • Deciding about whether to participate in their case going forward created a moral dilemma for some victims.
  • Victims faced many barriers in their current lives.
  • The notification process created both danger and opportunity for victims.
  • The uncertainty about the case outcome weighed heavily upon victims.

Additional reports from this research project can be found at:

Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault School of Social Work The University of Texas at Austin
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