Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
If you or someone you know has been assaulted, call the Indiana University Sexual Assault Crisis Service Line at (812) 855-8900 for immediate assistance. Specially trained counselors are ready to respond 24 hours a day to provide immediate and ongoing psychological support, assist you in getting immediate medical care, if needed, and assist you in contacting law enforcement if you wish to do so.
A sexual assault is a traumatic event that has emotional and physical consequences. It is an act of control, intimidation, and violence. It is not your fault and you did not cause it to happen. Talking to someone is one of the first steps toward recovery.
If you desire, a forensic exam may be performed after you have been assaulted. There trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) who perform forensic sexual assault exams at the IU Health Center on campus. The availability of these providers is limited, so you may be directed to go to IU Health Bloomington Hospital Emergency Department, which is available 24 hours a day for forensic examination. Call the Women’s Clinic at (812) 855-7558 if you have questions.
What is a forensic examination?
A forensic exam is done to collect and preserve evidence that can be used in court. For sexual assault, this is commonly referred to as collecting a “rape kit”. Evidence is best collected as soon as possible or at least within 96 hours of the sexual assault or rape. Some people may wish to report the sexual assault or rape as a crime while others may not want to report it. This can be a difficult decision and no one should be forced into making a choice right away. In Indiana, evidence can be held for up to one year before making a police report. According to the Abuse & Incest National Network, many people report that prosecuting their rapist helps re-establish a sense of control in their lives, aiding in their recovery. Still, deciding whether or when to file a police report is a personal decision.
What can I expect during the forensic exam?
- You will be seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who has been specially trained to provide care for persons who have been sexually assaulted. Remember to ask questions if you do not understand and that you can REFUSE any part of the exam if you so choose.
- You will be asked to sign consents to do the exam, to take photos and to release information to law enforcement if you choose to do so.
- You will be asked general questions about your health, past health problems and medications that you take. For women, you will also be asked about possibility of pregnancy before the assault and your last menstrual period.
- You will be asked to give a detailed history of the assault. This will include the details including the date and time of the assault, where it occurred and what you have done since the assault occurred. If you are wearing the clothing you wore during the assault, you will be asked to give it as evidence. If you have already changed clothes, you may be asked to give your underwear as evidence.
- You will be asked to change into a gown.
- You will have some blood drawn to identify your DNA purposes and for STI testing.
- Pictures may be taken to note bruises, scrapes, or cuts. X-rays will be taken if the health care provider suspects fractures. It is important to mention any place that hurts.
- The health care provider may look at your body with a special florescent lamp that allows the provider to see evidence that is not seen by the naked eye.
- The health care provider will then perform a physical exam to collect possible evidence. This involves using cotton swabs to collect possible evidence from different parts of your body and inside your mouth, scraping under your fingernails, taking samples of hair, and collecting any debris on your skin.
- The final part of the exam is a genital exam where the health care provider checks for injury and collects possible evidence. For women this may include collecting specimens from outside the vagina, inside the vagina, and around the anus. For men it may include collecting specimens from the penis, scrotum, and anus.
What can I expect after the exam?
- You will be offered treatment to prevent some sexually transmitted infections and to prevent pregnancy if needed.
- You will talk with a law enforcement person if you choose to report this assault.
- You will be encouraged to arrange follow up counseling with the Sexual Assault Crisis Clinic. Other resources discussed may include the Office of Student Ethics and Student Advocacy if appropriate or needed. There are other agencies in the community who also provide assistance to the victim of sexual assault or rape.