What to Expect During a Sexual Assault Exam
|Who Makes Decisions Regarding My Care and Treatment?
Consent & Rights:
- You must be awake and oriented, and able to participate in your care in order to consent to have a sexual assault exam.
- Healthcare providers should not conduct a sexual assault exam or collect physical evidence without your permission.
- You do not have to report to law enforcement in order to have a sexual assault exam conducted and evidence collected, or to have the state pay for it.
- You have up to 60 days in which to report to law enforcement from the time the evidence is collected. If a report is not made within the 60 days,
evidence collected may no longer be available for use in the prosecution of the offender.
- You have the right to have a certified sexual assault counselor/advocate present during the sexual assault exam, if you choose. Their services are confidential and free of charge.
- You have the right to decline any part of the examination or treatment and the right to ask any questions you may have. You also have the right to withdraw your consent at any time.
- You have the right to culturally sensitive care in a timely manner, without judgment or bias.
|What will happen during a Sexual Assault Exam?
Medical care and treatment of acute injuries take priority over a sexual assault exam and evidence collection.
Basic components of a sexual assault exam include:
- History: consists of a narrative and questions related to the assault, as well as past and present medical history. It is intended to help identify injuries related to the assault and guide evidence collection.
- Physical Assessment: the purpose is to identify injuries and document physical findings.
- Evidence Collection: the CT100 State of Connecticut Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit is the standardized sexual assault kit used in all CT hospitals. This process includes 13 steps and the exam is conducted in a sensitive and respectful manner. Any step in the exam can be declined. The CT400 Toxicology Screen Evidence Collection kit is the standardized kit used in all CT hospitals where drugs or alcohol are suspected to have been used to facilitate a sexual assault. Both the CT100 and CT400 require consent.
- The evidence collection kit includes retrieving a variety of samples including debris (soil, fibers, grass, etc.), blood, hair, urine, and genital swabs.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy risk evaluation and preventive care: medications are given to prevent STIs and emergency contraception is offered to prevent pregnancy.
- Discharge, follow-up and referrals: instructions are given regarding follow-up care for medical and counseling purposes.
The sexual assault exam takes an average of 3-4 hours. This may be less or more, depending on the circumstances and extent of needed care.
|Sexual Assault Exams on the Storrs Campus
Through the advocacy and support of UConn, our students and the Connecticut General Assembly, UConn Student Health and Wellness is now a site for victims of sexual assault to receive a sexual assault evidence collection kit. A Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) is a nurse or doctor who has specialized training and education in evidence collection. They have specialized knowledge of legal issues such as chain of custody and courtroom testimony and are trained in sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and medications.
SAFEs work closely with sexual assault victim advocates, hospital staff, law enforcement, and criminal prosecutors to provide victims of sexual assault with comprehensive and compassionate services. They serve on an on-call basis and provide coverage at participating hospitals across the state.
Provided UConn students are not at risk of critical injury, UConn students can call Student Health and Wellness at any time during the Fall and Spring semester to speak with a nurse on call and discuss having a SAFE paged to UConn. Exams are administered through the CT Office of Victim Services (OVS).
Here is what to expect if you wish to have a SAFE exam:
- Evidence collection kits need to occur within 120 hours (5 days) after the assault. Determining whether or not to have evidence collected is part of an overall decision about how and when you address any health and safety concerns you have after an assault. Having the evidence collection kit done does not mean you are obligated to press charges and/or file a complaint on campus. Additionally, you are not obligated to have all parts of the exam completed if there are portions that are too uncomfortable to have performed. While you have time (120 Hours) to decide if you wish to proceed with the exam, it is important to understand that the exam is more effective when performed closer to the time of the assault.
- If you have been the victim of a sexual assault or have any questions about the exam, confidential advocacy is available to you any time of day or night through:
- Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- Statewide Hotline: 1-888-999-5545 (24/7)
- Spanish Hotline: 1-888-568-8332 (24/7)
- Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Statewide Hotline: 1-888-774-2900 (24/7)
- Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- Student Health and Wellness will conduct an initial health assessment over the phone to determine if there is a need for you to be seen immediately at a hospital. If that need is determined, Student Health and Wellness will arrange for you to be transported by ambulance to the nearest hospital.
- If there is not a medical need for emergency transportation, the on call nurse will speak with you to determine if you are safe and discuss options for coming to the infirmary.
- After you have spoken with the on call nurse, Student Health and Wellness will page the SAFE to come to UConn and make arrangements to meet with you at Student Health and Wellness. The exam will be conducted on campus and, provided there is no emergent medical issue, you will not be transported to the hospital.
- While you are at Student Health and Wellness, nursing staff from Student Health and Wellness and our local rape crisis center (Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut, Inc) will be available. You will also be provided information on-campus resources such as the Dean of Students Office, the Women’s Center, and the Office of Institutional Equity.
- Students may always elect to have the exam conducted at Windham Hospital or any of the hospitals associated with the SAFE program. You do not have to have the exam conducted at Student Health and Wellness.
- While you are under the care of Student Health and Wellness and OVS SAFE, your records are confidential.
|FAQ’s about Sexual Assault Exams
1. I don’t remember anything and I am not certain if I was sexually assaulted. Can a sexual assault exam show if I was assaulted?
Answer: No. A sexual assault exam, including a pelvic exam, cannot determine if a sexual assault took place. The presence or absence of injury, including genital injury, does not prove or disprove that an assault took place.
2. Do I have to report the assault to the police to obtain medical care and utilization of the kit? If I am not sure about reporting to the police, should I have the kit completed?
Answer: The decision to report the assault to law enforcement authorities is solely up to you. You don’t have to follow through with prosecution or report to any other agency even if you choose to have evidence collected. If you are unsure about reporting, you should have the kit completed because it is important to have the kit completed as soon as possible after the sexual assault. Critical evidence may be lost or destroyed as time passes. Having the evidence collected does give you a wider range of options later if you decide you do want to press charges against the assailant(s). The law requires that the completed kit be held for 60 days to allow you time to decide whether to report the assault. During this period, the kit will NOT be identified by your name. You can still choose not to report to the police. If you don’t want to report the crime, the hospital is not required to notify the police when a sexual assault has occurred although it is required to report suspected child abuse or elder abuse to the Department of Children and Families.
3. Can I have someone in the room with me besides an advocate?
Answer: Yes. But while certified sexual assault advocates have privileged communication by law (they cannot be made to testify in court without your consent), anyone else in the room during a sexual assault exam can be subpoenaed to testify in court.
4. I am concerned about getting sexually transmitted infections. If I get tested during the sexual assault exam, will I find out if I got anything?
Answer: Any testing for sexually transmitted infections done during a sexual assault exam will only show what was already present. This is why follow-up in two weeks is important, to help determine if any infections were transmitted through the assault.
5. Who pays for the medical-forensic exam?
Answer: The Connecticut Judicial Branch, Office of Victim Services, reimburses hospitals for the sexual assault exam and evidence collection. This includes the cost of medications for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception given at the time of the exam.
The evidence collection kit must be opened and started for the state to cover the cost of the sexual assault exam.
6. Is there any cost that is NOT covered by the state?
Answer: The hospital may bill you or your insurance company for the cost of treatments which are not a part of the sexual assault exam. These include services such as x-rays, CT scans, sutures, etc. However, these may be compensable through the Office of Victim Services.
Prescriptions for medications given at the time of the sexual assault exam are also not covered by the state, but may be compensable through the Office of Victim Services.
7. Can I find out the results of my evidence collection kit?
The Connecticut Forensic Laboratory is responsible for all forensic examinations for the State of Connecticut. In order to have the sexual assault kit examined by the Forensic Lab, a complaint must be filed with the police department where the assault took place. Once a complaint is filed, the kit is examined and the results are submitted to the investigating agency. This may take several weeks.
In the event a complaint is not made, the sexual assault kit is considered anonymous and is not examined, but is stored for 60 days by the Forensic Lab. After 60 days, if a complaint has not been made, it is returned to the submitting agency. If a complaint is made within 60 days, the kit is examined.
8. Who will pay for additional Medical Services?
The State of Connecticut will pay for the cost of completing the sexual assault evidence collection kit. Additional medical services, if needed, should be covered by private insurance. If you submit claims through your parent’s insurance, they may learn about your visit to the emergency room through the insurance company. You may discuss your payment options with the hospital accounting department. You may also be able to get help with the bills that are not covered by medical insurance from the Office of Victim Services. This can include co-pays for visits to counselors following an assault.
For information on financial reimbursement through the Office of Victim Services Compensation Program, call 888-286-7347, Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM.
|Follow-Up and Referral
Follow-up care for medical and counseling purposes is important.
You may be seen by your private physician or, as a UConn student, follow-up care can be provided at Student Health and Wellness. It’s best if you call as soon as possible to make a follow-up appointment. UConn students also may receive follow-up care through Student Health and Wellness – Mental Health (Avery Point, Hartford and Waterbury campuses), and the Counseling Center (Stamford campus).
The University of Connecticut’s Student Health and Wellness can arrange for a free examination if the patient does not wish to have evidence collection. You can also receive free STI testing, free antibiotic medications to prevent STI’s and emergency contraception.
A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations – Adults/Adolescents (2013). Second edition.
Barry, D. & Cell, P. (2009). Campus Sexual Assault Response Teams – Program Development and Operational Management. Civic Research Institute.
Ledray, L., Burgess, A. & Giardino, A. (2011). Medical Response to Adult Sexual Assault – A Resource for Clinicians and Related Professionals. St Louise: STM Learning.
State of Connecticut Technical Guidelines for Health Care Response to Victims of Sexual Assault (2013). Commission on the Standardization of the Collection of Evidence in Sexual Assault Investigations.