Central MN Sexual Assault Center



How to Support Latinx Survivors

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Wrapping Up #FeatureFriday

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For the past 7 months, we have been featuring our various staff members, interns, volunteers, SANE nurses, and community partners every Friday to put a spotlight on the names and faces who makes our organization so special. We hope you have enjoyed learning more about us and all of the people that make up CMSAC. Even our own team members enjoyed getting to learn more about each other!

While we loved sharing our #FeatureFridays with you all, we decided to wrap our weekly series. We still intend to feature our future team members with you as we grow our organization. So, for our last #FeatureFriday, we want to say thank you to everyone who participated in our series. We featured over 30 CMSAC partners/team members!

If you did not get to see our #FeatureFridays and would like to check them out, we have linked all our our posts below:

12/6 – McKenna 12/13 – Shana
12/20 – Peggy 12/27 – Kati
1/3 – Liz 1/10 – Brany
1/17 – Carlee 1/24 – Claire
1/31 – Rebecca 2/7 – Mark
2/14 – Bree & Andrew 2/21 – Katrina
2/28 – Mandy 3/6 – Bethany
3/13 – Bree 3/20 – Prom It Forward
3/27 – Amy 4/3 – Andrew
4/10 – Erica 4/17 – Abby
4/24 – COVID-19 Workers 5/1 – Rebecca
5/8 – Kari 5/15 – Nikki
5/22 – Lyndsey 5/29 – Diane
6/5 – Activists all over the world 6/12 – Amanda
6/19 – Janeen 6/26 – CentraCare Call Center
7/3 – Crystal


#TheTruthAboutRapeKits – 8 Part Social Media Series

Every 73 seconds someone experiences sexual violence (RAINN, 2020). There have been several news articles out regarding the testing and storage of evidence collection kits. We would like to provide some information to help you sort out the facts. Sometimes sensationalized reporting is not 100% accurate and often is misleading. Contrary to the TV version of the criminal justice system we are exposed to; criminal sexual conduct cases can take anywhere from six to eighteen months to move through the system. Physical evidence may or may not be relevant for the charging and conviction of a case.

Part 1: Sexual Assault Evidence Kits 


This can also be known as a “rape kit”. A sexual assault evidence kit can be just a piece of solving a criminal sexual conduct case. Evidence from a sexual assault can be collected up to 120 hours (5 days) after a sexual assault occurs. Every portion of the examination is voluntary. It may include a full body examination, including internal examinations of the oral, vaginal, and/or rectal areas. It may also include taking samples of blood, urine, swabs of body surface areas, and sometimes hair samples. The trained professional performing the exam may take pictures of your body to document injuries and the examination. Also, they may collect items of clothing worn during or after the sexual assault. The sexual assault evidence exam can take anywhere between two-six hours due to the evidence collected and documentation. At the time of the exam, the victim/survivor will not be given any answers to if an assault occurred; the team at the hospital is there to collect the facts and evidence. With the permission of the victim/survivor the evidence may be turned over to investigators. This exam does not cost anything to the victim/survivor financially. The county where the assault occurred is responsible for payment of this exam.

Part 2: Sexual Violence Advocates


A sexual violence advocates are mandated in the state of Minnesota to have completed a 40+hour Sexual Assault Advocacy Training class. Through this they are taught about advocacy support, system policies/protocols, the realities and impacts of sexual violence and so much more. Sexual violence victim advocacy encompasses assisting individuals in exploring and understanding their options and empowering them to make their own decisions. Advocacy is about fostering a safe environment where survivors can tell their story and be heard without judgment. Advocates assist individuals in finding answers to their questions, understanding their options, and building support systems.

An advocate’s role may include:

  • Crisis Intervention
  • Deliver immediate support, information on protective orders, community referrals, and screen for suicide/homicide risk over the phone and in person
  • Medical/Evidentiary Exam Response
  • Offer the victim/survivor information about their options, answer questions, and advocate on their behalf with the medical personnel providing care
  • Law Enforcement Accompaniment
  • Provide emotional support while the survivor gives their official statement to law enforcement
  • Family/Partner Support
  • Work with secondary victims (partners, family, friends, etc.) offering support, information, and community referrals
  • Ongoing Support/Support Groups
  • Provide supportive counseling in one-to-one or group settings, offering referrals when necessary

Part 3: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)


A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a specially trained registered nurse in forensic evidence collection. In addition to being a registered nurse, a SANE must complete 40+ hours of training in medical, psychological and forensic examination of anyone who experiences sexual violence. After completion of this training SANE’s shadow examinations with other experienced SANE’s. SANE’s also need to maintain continuing education as required to be experts in the field. A SANE offers collection of forensic evidence, toxicology, crisis intervention, health history, STI prophylaxis, and offers of emergency contraception. Central MN Sexual Assault center runs a community-based SANE program.

Part 4: Restricted and Unrestricted Sexual Assault Evidence Kits/Reporting

Unrestricted Sexual Assault Evidence Kit = Reported to Law Enforcement An “unrestricted sexual assault evidence kit” means a kit with a written release form signed by a patient allowing law enforcement to submit the kit to a forensic laboratory.

Unrestricted Reporting- If an individual wants to report directly to law enforcement, they can choose to have the medical forensic examination completed and their evidence unrestricted. Law Enforcement would then begin the investigation and submit the kit to a forensic laboratory per the investigative process.

Restricted Sexual Assault Evidence Kit = NOT Reported to Law Enforcement A “restricted sexual assault evidence kit” means a kit does not have a release form signed by the victim and they came to the hospital and a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit is completed by SANE nurse, but will not be submitted to a forensic laboratory, at this time.

Restricted ReportingIf an individual is not sure whether to participate in the unrestricted reporting process right now, they can choose to have the medical forensic examination completed and evidence collected restricted. This gives individuals the opportunity to preserve evidence collected at the hospital. This evidence will remain preserved and the victim can decide to move their kit from restricted to unrestricted during statutes of limitations requirements.

Part 5: Sexual Violence Victims Options


Victim/Survivors of sexual violence are provided options on reporting and evidence collection. Payment of the sexual assault evidence exam is billed to the county where the assault occurred whether the sexual assault was reported to law enforcement or not.

Unrestricted Sexual Assault Evidence Kit = Reported to Law Enforcement An “unrestricted sexual assault evidence kit” means a kit with a written release form signed by the victim allowing law enforcement to submit the kit to a forensic laboratory.

Restricted Sexual Assault Evidence Kit = NOT Reported to Law Enforcement A “restricted sexual assault evidence kit” means a kit does not have a release form signed by the victim and they came to the hospital and a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit is completed by SANE nurse, but will not be submitted to a forensic laboratory, at this time.

Information Only ReportingThere is an option for an individual to file an information only report with Law Enforcement. This would mean they would give the details of their assault to an officer, but the officer would not investigate at the time, if ever, based on the individual’s request.

Medical Treatment Only In cases where an individual would like to have medical treatment and prophylaxis only, they can request this option, too.

Part 6: Minnesota Numbers


There are roughly 70,000 untested sexual assault kits sitting in storage nationally. There are currently 3,482 sexual assault evidence kits sitting in storage in Minnesota. This is not a backlog, but a storage of evidence for various reasons (Part 7). It costs roughly $1,000 per sexual assault evidence kit to be tested. They are tested by forensic analysts at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) upon being directed to do so.

Part 7: Why are sexual assault evidence kits being stored?


Restricted sexual assault evidence kits are to be stored until the victim/survivor decides they wish to move forward with reporting to law enforcement. Currently, this needs to be done within the statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct cases which is nine years (in certain instances this can be longer).

A few examples of why sexual assault evidence kits are being stored and not processed are:

  • Both victim/survivor and perpetrator have admitted to sexual contact. The perpetrator says their DNA will be found, but the sexual contact was “consensual”. The issue of DNA is not what will prove beyond a reasonable doubt the criminal sexual conduct case, but it is other circumstances surrounding the sexual contact (i.e. corroborating statements, witnesses, admission of guilt, etc.) to corroborate the criminal sexual conduct case.
  • There was a confession made by the perpetrator to the criminal sexual conduct, so there is not an immediate need to test the sexual assault evidence kit.
  • The prosecution declined to press charges for the crime of criminal sexual conduct. This means to county could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt a crime occurred. {MINN CRIMJIG 3.03 (2012)}

Part 8: Are there things we can do as a system?

Funding: in December 2019 the state of Minnesota was awarded a 2-million-dollar grant to attempt to start testing the sexual assault evidence kit “backlog”. With this grant we would still not be able to all the backlog. We would be $1,348, 200 short on testing costs. Plus, an abundance of these were not tested due to the factors listed in Part 6. If the goal is to test the backlog regardless of those factors there would need to be a push for more money for Minnesota to catch up and maintain the sexual assault evidence kit testing.

Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Forensic Analysts’: Forensic Analysts are experts in their field. This means they must testify to the evidence they have tested the collection on. This means also frequently analysts may be out of the office testifying on their process, evidence, and what it shows to the court. We need to advocate for more funding to hire more positions in the BCA for this purpose.

Statute of Limitations: Currently, statute of limitations for criminal sexual conduct is nine years. Unless, other circumstance is permitted. We need to continue to push legislature to move towards elimination of statues of limitations for criminal sexual conduct cases.

Processing: Prioritizing “high profile” cases over prioritizing them in the time they came into the BCA lab. Also, the amount of time it takes to test the sexual assault evidence kit.


Our anger and frustration is justified when there are gross errors made by professionals working in the system. It does not fall to one specific professional system as when one of us fails our whole team fails. Our fear is some of these misleading reports has led people to believe law enforcement is incompetent and if all the evidence kits were tested, people’s cases would be charged, resulting in more convictions. The reality is there are several committed and skilled law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys. Criminal sexual conduct cases are very complex, and each individual case has unique qualities requiring a wide variety of types of corroborating evidence necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a crime was committed. We all want justice for survivors of sexual violence. We want easy answers and solutions. Test results from sexual assault evidence collection kits can be important in some cases or not significant enough in other cases to be entered into evidence.

Please feel free to contact CMSAC’s Client Services Coordinator, Bree Temple at with comments/questions about the complexities of criminal sexual conduct cases and sexual assault evidence kits.


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Mental Health in Latinx Culture

Mental health and sexual assault are connected topics. The memory of sexual assault is traumatic and can have long lasting harmful effects to one’s mental health. Unfortunately, mental health is a taboo topic in Latinx culture. In fact, only 20% of people who identify as Latinx talk to a professional about their symptoms. Here are some ways you can eliminate the stigma and normalize these conversations.


La salud mental y el abuso sexual son temas relacionados. El recuerdo del abuso sexual es traumático y puede tener efectos duraderos para la salud mental. Desafortunadamente, la salud mental es un tema tabú en la cultura latinx. Solo el 20% de las personas que se identifican como latinx hablan con un profesional sobre sus síntomas. Aquí hay algunas formas en que puede eliminar el estigma y normalizar estas conversaciones.


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Thank You braveFACEmasks!!

Wow! We are so thankful for the support of our community. We had 30 masks donated to CMSAC for our volunteers/staff by braveFACEmasks!!

Having these masks will help to protect us/those we work with in the coming months. A big, big thank you to all of the volunteers working hard to cut, sew, and distribute these masks. 💙😷

Click braveFACEmasks to learn more on how you can donate or volunteer!

What is machismo or toxic masculinity?

CMSAC works closely with victim/survivors of all identities. We want to do more education on the way sexual violence intersects with those identities. Read below about what toxic masculinity and machismo is and how it contributes to rape culture.

To learn more, check out:…/machismo-and-gender-violenc…
CMSAC trabaja con víctimas / sobrevivientes de todas las identidades. Queremos hacer más educación sobre la forma en que la violencia sexual se connecta con esas identidades. Lea a continuación sobre qué es el machismo y cómo contribuye a la cultura de la violación.

Para obtener más información, consulte:…/machismo-and-gender-violenc…



Today is Equal Pay Day!

All Women (2)

Today is Equal Pay Day, and the pay gap contributes to sexual violence more than you’d think! Here are just a few ways:

  •  Unequal pay forces women to be dependent on their abusive partner, making it even harder to leave
  • Women who are paid less than their male coworkers are less likely to report sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Unequal pay increases the likelihood of a woman being sexually exploited or trafficked in order to survive
  • Unequal pay sustains the ideology that men are superior and women are inferior, in turn, creating the expectation that women are supposed to submit to sexual acts
  • Unequal pay continues a culture of victim-blaming as women are blamed for the pay gap (“if you choose to be a mother, you will be paid less”)
  • Adding other intersectionalities like race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. will exaggerate everything listed above even more and in different ways.

Enough is enough. It is time to close the gap and pay all people what they deserve. 💵


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