Hark Rape Kit
Interaction Design / 3D Product / Strategy / Design Research
MFA Products of Design
School of Visual Arts, 2019
Hark is a speculative over-the-counter rape kit. It includes all necessary evidence collecting components and is made for the victim.
Hark means to listen, and this over-the-counter rape kit ensures victims that they are indeed heard. It is a small compact design that gives clear instructions on how to perform the evidence collection. It requires a witness so that the evidence is collected properly and without being tampered with, and allows for easy mailing access to police when it is complete.
The Current Landscape
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), a sexual assault occurs every 98 seconds in the United States, and while 1 in 5 women experience rape in their lifetime, 60% of women don't report it and less than 1% of rapists are convicted. The low numbers of reporting and convictions can be attributed to many different factors such as cultural bias, societal pressures, stigma, lack of training from police and nurses, and gender inequality. But what role do rape kits play in this process?
After a sexual assault occurs, a victim experiences a form of trauma, which makes navigating complex systems even more challenging than it might already be. Currently, after an assault, a victim can either call 911, go the hospital, go to police, call a hotline/rape crisis center or conduct a Google search of what to do. Right now, in most situations, the victim will be directed to go to an emergency room that performs rape kits but also that will have a SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) program where nurses are trained in how to handle sexual assaults and treat the victim with a trauma-informed approach. However, the exam can take 3-10 hours and is often described as traumatizing and invasive. There is not standard kit or policy around collecting kits, but each kit has similar steps and looks very much alike: overwhelming and like a box full of bills.
Make sexual assault kits accessible, victim-centered and less intimidating. How might we redesign the rape kit so that victims want to report and can perform the exam in the comfort of their home and with someone they trust?
This project included many subject matter expert interviews in order to learn about the existing kit and the system around it. I began by creating a user journey map around receiving a rape kit and started to see that there was a lot of stress at the beginning and end of the kit experience in deciding whether to get a kit and then deciding whether to report the crime to police. Following this research, I held a co-creation session at A/D/O called "Redesigning the Kit", where I asked participants to map out where they would go after a sexual assault and how they would imagine acquiring kits.
Pre-designed Facilitation Materials
Subject Matter Expert Interviews
Most participants responded that they would feel ashamed after the assault and would only feel comfortable going to a close friend or someone they trust, as many didn't trust the police, were afraid of emergency rooms and couldn't turn to their families. Creating a kit that survivors can not only access on their own, but then conduct with someone they trust could allow for a more survivor-centered experience, encouraging more women to feel safe reporting and eventually increase the low rates of reporting.
“I probably wouldn’t go to the hospital or get a kit out of shame, being judged and fear of my family finding out.”
Participant, Co-Creation Workshop
A NEW RAPE KIT
A speculative over-the-counter rape kit. The kit includes all of the necessary evidence collecting components, procedures that ensure proper collection and chain of evidence, and allow for victims to perform the exam without having to deal with the emergency room and the police until they are ready and on their terms.