Clothing donations needed for sexual assault survivors whose clothes are taken as evidence

By: Ellie Romano

Email: ERomano@ABC6.com

Twitter: @ERomanoABC6

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – During the holiday season, many people will give back. Often times, our go-to donations are toys and canned goods. 

But advocacy groups are looking for practical items to go to survivors of sexual assault– like undergarments and socks. 

When a person survives a sexual assault, their first stop will often be to the police. Or, they can go directly to the hospital where trained staff will perform a forensic exam. There are 16 parts in a sexual assault exam. The first step is taking the victim’s clothes as evidence. 

“When you’re giving your clothes for a forensic exam, underwear is often the most important piece of evidence that they might take,” said Mia Lombardi, the Advocacy Coordinator at Day One

Unfortunately, some hospitals in Rhode Island don’t have undergarments on hand to replace what is taken as evidence. 

“Some of our hospitals have johnnies. Some of our hospitals are looking in the lost in found,” said Lombardi.

When cases like that happen, more stress can be added to the victim, who is already struggling with trauma.

“Sexual violence, it’s all about power and control. It’s a violent act,” said Lombardi. “Leaving the hospital following a sexual assault without those basic needs met– it’s so unempowering.”

Lombardi and her team of volunteers at Day One work to make sure a survivor gets the essential clothing following the exam at the hospital. The team puts together “Go Out Bags,” which consist of two sets of clothes, socks, underwear and personal hygiene products. 

Day One advocates will meet survivors at the hospital and give them a Go Out Bag. Lombardi said just a few items of clothing can help a victim keep their dignity during a difficult time.

“Handing the survivor a clean, fresh, brand new set of clothes– it changes your perspective,” said Lombardi. “It doesn’t make anything that happened any better, but it does make the next step easier.”

Lombardi would like to see 60-80 Go Out Packs on hand at Day One by February. 

She is looking for new clothes, sizes small, medium, large and extra-large. The clothes would preferably be loose, like sweatpants or leggings, so someone leaving the hospital would feel comfortable in them. 

For a full list of what kinds of clothes Day One is looking for, click here

For information on where to drop-off clothes, call the Day One Office Manager at 401-421-4100, ext. 161, or email zruiz@dayoneri.org

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2019