Dye used for rape victims doesn’t show up on all skin types

Posted at 11:42 PM, Jun 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-21 11:56:17-04

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) - Angela Verdery with Safe Harbor says it's common for victims to keep quiet if victims of sexual violence.

"So often folks are never even telling anyone," said Verdery.

Verdery says the percentage of victims who go to a hospital or police for help is very small. But those who do report a rape are given test kits at emergency departments.

From there, a nurse uses a dye to allow genital injuries to show up on the victim's skin. But, Associate Professor at the University of Virginia, Kathryn Laughon, says there's a problem with the blue dye.

Laughon says it doesn't show up on victims with darker skin.

"This is very likely because of visualization techniques that we use that simply don't work as well on dark skin," said Laughon.

Laughon is hoping to change this by testing fluorescent dyes that will show up on all skin types and colors.

"I want to make sure for individuals who want to pursue charges that they have the same access to documentation and evidence collection that everyone has," said Laughon.

Verdery says after hearing about this research and possibility, she's hoping it will go a long way.

"Anything that makes it more likely that a case can be prosecuted is just what survivors deserve," she said.