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EVAWI > Resources > Forensic Compliance

Forensic Compliance

Many communities face challenges in establishing a community response system that is compliant with the provisions of VAWA 2005 and 2013. EVAWI is currently providing technical assistance on this critically important topic.

In this section, you will find background information on the forensic compliance provisions in VAWA 2005 and VAWA 2013. VAWA 2005 specifies that states and territories may not “require a victim of sexual assault to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement in order to be provided with a forensic medical exam, reimbursed for charges incurred on account of such an exam, or both.” All states and territories must now certify (as of January 5, 2009) that they are in compliance with these requirements in order to remain eligible for STOP Grant funds from the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). VAWA 2013 clarified that victims cannot be required to pay any out-of-pocket costs to obtain a medical forensic exam. Communities have until March 2016 to be in compliance with the new provisions of VAWA 2013.   
In this section, you will find a wealth of resources for professionals to use in their own communities. These resources include background articles, a community self-assessment tool, and sample laws, policies, protocols, forms, and other documents that can be adapted for use.  The goal is to highlight examples of communities striving to achieve a higher standard of the “spirit of the law,” rather than simply meeting the “letter of the law” for VAWA forensic compliance.



Here you will find detailed answers to many Frequently Asked Questions regarding VAWA forensic compliance. Questions address topics such as the purpose and philosophy of the legislation, and methods of payment for sexual assault medical forensic exams, among others. 


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Many professionals have questions about the laws in their own state or territory, pertaining to forensic compliance and payment for sexual assault medical forensic exams.  Answers can be found in the document entitled, Summary of Laws and Guidelines with Charts:  Payment of Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations.  This document was created by AEquitas:  The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, in collaboration with EVAWI.  You can download the whole 228-page document, which includes the laws and guidelines for each U.S. state and territory, as well as a number of charts summarizing the provisions.  For an overview, you can also download the 13-page Summary of Laws and Guidelines. We also offer an interactive map, to review the laws in your own state or territory.

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New Protocol:  Cambria County, Pennsylvania
Cambria County, Pennsylvania offers a comprehensive sexual assault protocol which includes a well-designed procedure for anonymous reporting (for victims age 18 and over).  This protocol is thoughtfully designed and crafted with meticulous attention to detail.  It is also beautifully written, making it an excellent model for other communities seeking to implement a similar protocol in their community.  The final document is a consent form for victims who report anonymously, authorizing the collection, documentation, and release of evidence (to be stored by the municipal police department).  The form offers a brief explanation of key issues for victims, including the fact that they will not be billed for the exam, that their medical records will remain private, and that their evidence will be stored for 2 years.  Victims can choose whether or not they would like to be contacted 3 weeks before the evidence will be destroyed. If so, the form documents their preference and various methods of contacting them.

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