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24 Hour Crisis and Support Line: (519) 354-8688
I have been Sexually Assaulted – What Do I Do?
If you are sexually assaulted:
- First and foremost go to a safe place and if you can, call someone you trust.
- If you feel you are still in danger or are injured please call 911
- Call the Chatham-Kent Sexual Assault Crisis Centre’s 24 hour Crisis and Support line at (519) 354-8688
- You have the right to seek medical care whether you decide to report the assault to the police or not.
- If you decide to seek out a medical exam/collection of physical evidence, it is best if you do not consume any drugs, including alcohol prior to the exam. Do not wash, douche, brush your teeth, change clothes, go to the washroom, or clean up the area where the assault occurred as this could destroy potential evidence.
Getting Medical Care/Evidence Collection
If you have been sexually assaulted, physical evidence can be collected up to 12 days after the assault. Although it is very difficult to tell anyone what happened and you may not want to admit to yourself that you were assaulted, it’s important to get immediate medical care (such as prevention medication for sexually transmitted infections) and evidence collection if you ever want to report to the police at a later date. Your visit and evidence will be kept strictly confidential unless you give permission for your medical records to be shared.
“I don’t want anyone to know this happened, why should I go to the hospital?”
It’s very important to take care of yourself as soon as possible following a sexual assault. Such an event can cause someone to experience shock or emotional/physical distancing from oneself that may lead to one not even realizing that she has been injured.
It’s important to have any injuries cared for so that healing can occur quickly.
You may be at risk of getting pregnant or getting a sexually transmitted infection.
The nurse at the hospital can offer you some information and emotional support. She can give you resources to counselling services in your community; research demonstrates that individuals who start counselling/treatment early after a trauma are less likely to develop long-term emotional difficulties.
Evidence such as bodily fluids, skin cells, hair particles, drugs in one’s urine are very time-sensitive to collect. These would easily be lost as time goes by after an assault. Such evidence can be a very important part of a court case if a woman chooses to report to the police in the following months.
“Where do I go once I get to the hospital?”
Go to the emergency triage desk and tell the triage nurse that you have been sexually assaulted and want to have an examination done by the Sexual Assault Care Centre nurse.
“What will happen in the examination?”
A specially trained nurse and doctor will guide you each step of the way. They won’t do anything without your permission and will keep your records confidential. The nurse/doctor will ask you what happened and will document your experience.
You will be given the option to have an internal exam done and have the results documented.
The nurse and/or doctor will collect the following evidence:
- Swabs that may contain semen, saliva, blood
- Fingernail scraping (looking for skin cells of the perpetrator)
- Pubic hair combing (looking for pubic hair belonging to the perpetrator)
- Pictures and/or documentation of any tearing or bruising
- Clothing collection (looking for hair or fibre materials belonging to the perpetrator)
- Urine sample (if victim has been drugged, alcohol/blood level)
“How long will they keep the evidence?”
The hospital will keep your evidence on file and frozen for a period of six months, allowing you time to decide if you would like to report to the police, in which case such evidence could be used in court proceedings to demonstrate that the perpetrator had contact with you.
“What do I bring?”
Bring the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault. If you are wearing the clothing you were assaulted in then bring an extra change of clothes. Bring a book or magazines, a friend or an activity to help distract you and pass the time as you may have a long wait. If you feel comfortable bring a supportive friend or request accompaniment from the Chatham-Kent Sexual Assault Crisis Centre.
“How long will it take?”
Often times the nurse and doctor are on call and may need to come in from another location. Depending on how busy the hospital is you may have to wait for a number of hours before your examination. Please don’t let this discourage you.
“What medications might I be given?”
- Preventative medication for HIV
- The morning after pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy
- Preventative medication for sexually transmitted infections
- Guidance to get follow-up blood work for HIV testing
“What if I might have been drugged?”
Bring a urine sample with you or a sample of your beverage to be tested for the suspected drug. The drug will be out of your system with your first morning’s urination following consumption.
“Do the police have to be notified?”
If you are 16 or older, police are not contacted unless you request for them to be contacted.
Your evidence will be held for 6 months, you have some time to think about the pros/cons of reporting. You can still report after 6 months has passed but you will have lost potentially valuable evidence for the case.
“Can I bring someone with me/request accompaniment?”
Absolutely! Going to the hospital is a very difficult and courageous step to take following a sexual assault. We highly recommend that you take a supportive friend or request accompaniment from a trained volunteer or counsellor from your local rape crisis centre.