Grant allows U of L hospital to help victims of domestic violenc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Grant allows U of L hospital to help victims of domestic violence

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There's more help on the way for victims of domestic violence in the form of new technology to aid in investigations.

Crime labs routinely process evidence to help prosecute sexual assault cases, but in those cases of domestic violence, in which there is no rape, evidence is sometimes difficult to find.

Strangulation wounds, for example, are not always obvious.

"A lot of times the strangulation was not significant enough to break enough blood vessels to cause excessive swelling or bleeding," said Melissa Edlin, coordinator of KentuckyOne's Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) Service.

"Often they are not able to prosecute. They are not believed, because this is a cycle. A lot of times victims return due to the fact that they are economically entrapped," added Marta Miranda, CEO of the Center for Women and Families.

But that will soon change, thanks to a $15,000 grant from Verizon Wireless to KentuckyOne and U of L Hospital. The funds will be used to purchase a device called an Illumacam.

"We will be able to collect forensic evidence that could assist in prosecution of all types of domestic violence cases regardless of whether sexual assault or sexual abuse has occurred," said Ken Marshall, president of U of L Hospital.

The LED camera can detect and photograph bruises under the skin's surface that would not normally be visible.

"You want to be able to capture the bleeding that's under the skin that's not prominent enough to see, and that's what the UV light and the camera is going to allow us to do," said Edlin.

Now when domestic violence victims are brought into an exam room already filled with evidence-gathering tools, the new technology will reveal what's hidden and help put abusers behind bars.

"This is an opportunity for them to say, if you're ready to leave and take care of you and your children, we will support you with the forensic evidence for you to actually prosecute your batterer and hold him accountable," said Miranda.

The grant not only buys new equipment, but also helps cover the cost of the forensic exam for domestic violence victims.

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