A sexual assault occurs every 68 seconds, but 77% of survivors never report their abuse and even fewer receive post-assault medical attention. And during the pandemic even fewer survivors have received hospital care.
Hospitals beds may be in short supply, but the need for survivor services hasn’t decreased. One company, Leda Health, is helping survivors get the services they need at home — and quickly.
Leda is a survivor-run company working with advocates, nurses, and lawyers to stop the cycle of sexual violence by building tools for DNA collection, survivor care, and healing. Leda was founded by sexual assault survivor and CEO Madison Campbell and CTO Liesel Vaidya.
As the fall semester beings, the company is offering Early Evidence Kits (EEK) with discreet delivery in under two hours starting Wednesday at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, the University of Tampa and the main campus of the University of South Florida.
The kits help survivors collect time-sensitive DNA after sexual assault for storage or testing. They can be completed offline or in conjunction with Leda’s free mobile app and live Care Team, available around the clock.
“Leda Health’s holistic approach to survivor health and recovery empowers survivors of sexual violence to take control of their own journeys toward healing. At a time when so much is out of a survivor’s control, Leda’s kits give victims a choice in evidence collection,” said Sen. Lauren Book, who is a survivor of sexual abuse.
Leda Health, represented in Florida by lobbyist Natalie Kato, has not officially partnered with any university nor is it charging a fee for its services. The EEK deliveries are being offered as part of the company’s “#NewNormal” national awareness campaign, which aims to stop the cycle of sexual violence on college campuses.
The company said it is “working with college students to reimagine a #NewNormal, where survivors are believed, amplified, and supported.”
Before the pandemic, about one in eight college students experienced sexual assault. And half of campus sexual assaults occur between August and November, a stretch known as “The Red Zone.” The pandemic is expected to increase the rate.
In addition to EEKs, Leda also offers at-home STI Testing, Plan B, and virtual Healing Circles free to survivors, as well as a Transformative Justice Support Group to help stop the cycle of sexual violence. A full list of Leda’s services is available online.
The company assured that there is legal precedent in Florida for using at-home DNA testing kits in sexual assault prosecutions. Leda has also partnered with established, experienced labs to process its kits such as Deerfield-based DNA Labs International.
“My mom opened our lab 17 years ago, and now we run it side-by-side. We take our work very seriously, and we’ve stayed true to our mission over the years: To solve crimes with efficiency and integrity and to support survivors in the process,” said Allison Nunes the lab’s director and COO. “We regularly test sexual assault kits, and it is our responsibility and honor to support survivors with quick, reliable results. Our lab has tested over 20,000 sexual assault samples this year already, and we are excited to partner with Leda Health to test their Early Evidence Kits for survivors.
“Leda’s Early Evidence Kit supports sexual assault survivors with time-sensitive DNA collection and helps more survivors seek the answers and options they deserve. We are proud to partner with Leda Health to further our mission of supporting survivors with options backed in efficiency and integrity,” she said.