KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) – A crime scene investigation tech with the Kansas City Police Department is making an impact nationwide with a program trying to bring a sense of comfort to survivors of sexual assault.
KCPD Crime Scene Technician Marisa Smith says investigators like herself have to take bed sheets as evidence many times at the scene of a sexual assault, something that she noted can be an invasive process for victims.
So Smith decided to start a program she created to collect bed sheets for sexual assault survivors.
“The concern is that it retraumatizes victims when they come home,” she explained. “So to alleviate a little bit of the stress of coming home to some place that has already been violated, and then was essentially violated by a crime scene technician, we decided to leave sheets so they have the ability to come home to something comforting.”
Though victims in Missouri are entitled to crime victims’ compensation, it’s not immediate. So Smith began asking people at the department to donate sheets.
“It was just something we started in the middle of last year to alleviate the stress that sexual assault victims go through after we’ve gone through their house,” she said
Her mission then went viral, and she’s received donations from all over the country. Donations even came in while Smith spoke with KCTV5 News for this story.
“I anticipated getting a couple of sheets, but we were really inundated,” she said. “In a positive way, but we just had this overwhelming response.”
Many of the donations include letters of support, bringing hope from across the country to go out, alongside the bedding each individual bought, to a sexual assault victim here in Kansas City.
Now, a year after its creation, Smith’s program is now helping other police departments.
“Raytown just came through and picked up sheets, and Johnson County last year,” she said, adding that she’s even received emails from departments and agencies in Ohio, Chicago, Hawaii and Maine asking for a template on the program to start their own.
They’re also able to donate sheets to local agencies such as the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault or MOCSA, a Kansas City agency that supports victims of sexual assault.
For Smith, the message she wants to get across is that these survivors are not alone.
“The message that their met with is that, ‘We believe you, and we support you, and what happened to you shouldn’t have happened,’” she said. “So when something as simple as their bed sheets are replaced, that’s the message that survivors share with us.”
KCTV5.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, StormTrack5 weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from KCTV5 News.
Copyright 2019 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.