HEALTHCARE OPTIONS

Forensic Exam
Drug Testing
Medical Care

Forensic Exam

If you are sexually assaulted, it is highly recommended you receive a medical and forensic examination at a hospital emergency department, even if you feel you have not been physically injured. Do not bathe, shower, douche, brush your teeth or change clothes, and if possible, do not urinate.The forensic exam is best done at a hospital with a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Aurora Lakeland Hospital in Elkhorn has such a program. Police do not need to be notified and the evidence may be stored at the hospital until you decide whether or not to report to the police Other resources

The forensic exam is important should you decide to report the incident to the police. Having the available evidence collected by a forensic exam keeps your options open. The evidence needs to be collected as soon as possible and once it is lost the case will be harder to prosecute. Evidence deteriorates rapidly, but some evidence may be able to be collected up to 120 hours later. The forensic exam will also document injuries or abrasions, both internal and external. Some are too small to be seen with the naked eye or felt by the survivor but will be importanat in court to prove a sexual assault took place. You may also need to be tested for a drug that was given to you without your consent or knowledge.

Take along a change of clothes. Your clothing may need to be kept as evidence until the case is closed. Aurora Lakeland Hospital, University Police, or Whitewater Police may be able to supply you with toiletries and a change of clothes (sweat suit and undergarments).

In Wisconsin, victim compensation or the SAFE fund pays for the forensic exam.


EXPLANATION OF THE FORENSIC EXAM FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

The exam will take several hours. At Lakeland Hospital, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) perform the exam. At other hospitals it may be an emergency department nurse or doctor. You can and should question any procedure that is unclear to you.

  1. If you suspect drugs were used to facilitate the assault, a urine sample should be collected immediately. This testing may also detect drugs you willingly ingested.
  2. The hospital can call a SART team member, family member or other support person you would like present.
  3. You will be asked questions about what occurred so as not to miss any injury or evidence.
  4. You may be asked to undress on a sheet of paper and your clothing put in separate paper bags if there could be any evidence on them.
  5. A physician or nurse does a physical and pelvic exam to check for injury and signs that sexual intercourse did occur. In some instances, there may be evidence that the sexual act was not consensual.
  6. Forensic evidence is collected from various parts of your body.You can refuse any portion of the exam or evidence collection procedure. Keep in mind that the more evidence you allow to be collected, the more evidence you have and the more complete your case will be. 72 hours is the latest that some evidence can be collected, other evidence lasts longer. Specimens of hair, saliva, and other fluids or materials found on the body are collected and labeled. Photographs of internal and external injuries will be taken. Unless the injury is of your face, your face will not be in the photograph.
  7. Sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing may be suggested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis. This does not need to be done. Tests done for STIs within a few hours of the assault only determine whether a disease existed before the assault occurred. Evidence of a pre-existing STI would be admissible in court. Prophylactic (preventative) medications can be given so you will not contract a treatable STI.
  8. If you have questions about possible exposure to HIV or are considering HIV testing, contact the University Health and Counseling Service or Wisconsin AIDS hotline (1-800-334-2437) for referrals to other approved test sites which provide confidential and/or anonymous testing as well as pre and post test counseling. Testing will not be accurate until 2-6 months after the assault. In cases where there is a significant risk of exposure, the law allows for a defendant to be tested for the presence of the HIV virus and for those results to be disclosed to a physician designated by the victim.
  9. Pregnancy tests take at least ten days to detect a pregnancy. The test is done at the time of the assault to indicate that the survivor was not pregnant at the time of the assault. It may be possible to get medication to prevent pregnancy (emergency contraception) but it must be given within 72 hours of the assault.
  10. To allow the processing of the kit, a medical consent/release form needs to be signed. Nothing is released without your consent. If you are not ready to report to the police, you can have the kit held at some hospitals in a locked storage room. If you do decide to report, the police will be called and an officer will come to the hospital to pick up the kit. Exception: In the case of a victim under 18 years of age, it is required that the police be notified. If the police are called, a sensitive crimes officer may be requested but cannot be guaranteed at all times. The police will ask preliminary questions about the assault, perpetrator, crime scene, etc.
  11. Signs of physical trauma may show up later: soreness, stiffness, or bruises. Seek medical attention for care and documentation. If you want, the medical clinic can call a police officer to take pictures for evidence in court, if needed. Rectal or vaginal bleeding may occur. If you experience these, see a doctor as soon as possible.
  12. You will be given instructions for follow up medical care.



TESTING FOR DRUGS USED IN SEXUAL ASSAULTS

What is this testing for?
A number of substances may be used to facilitate a sexual assault. These substances cause drowsiness, memory loss and a lack of muscle coordination and confusion, especially if combined with alcohol.

When Should The Sample Be Collected?
The urine sample should be collected from the victim immediately to increase the likelihood that the drug will be detected. The amount of drug in the victim's urine at any particular time depends on the person's metabolism, the amount of drug consumed, and the length of time that elapsed since the drug was ingested. Many drugs are eliminated after 24 hours, but some can be detected up to 72 hours later.

Where Should The Sample Be Collected?
To maintain proper chain of custody of the evidence it is best to have the tests done as part of a forensic exam in a hospital emergency department. Otherwise the results may not be admissible in court. If you can not wait until you get to the hospital, collect your urine in a clean container and keep it with you until ou hand it over to the SANE nurse.


Medical Care

If you choose not to have a forensic exam, seek medical care because you may need treatment for injuries, Sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and testing for or medication to prevent pregnancy (emergency contraception must be given within 72 hours of the assault).


Treatment Available at the University Health and Counseling Service

The University Health and Counseling Service can provide services to UW-Whitewater students. They provide treatment for injuries, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, medication to prevent pregnancy, pregnancy testing and anonymous HIV testing during their clinic hours. They do not collect forensic evidence.

There is no charge for the exam only the tests, and medications. The charges are considerably less than at a hospital emergency department but usually range from $50 - $125. If you are on the Family Planning Waiver program and have a Forward card, there will be no charge to you. If you are not on the Family Planning Waiver Program and seek care within 2 weeks of the assault, the SARTeam medical fund may be able to cover these expenses. Ask your doctor or nurse to check for you. Otherwise you may pay for them with cash or check, or use purple points or put them on your student bill. The staff is specially trained in the health concerns of college students, including sexual assault.

Professional counseling is provided for no charge at the University Health and Counseling Service.


This site is not meant to replace the advice of health care, counseling or legal professionals. You should not rely on any information on these pages, or information generated for you by this site, to replace consultations with qualified professionals regarding your own specific situation.

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Please email comments, suggestions, or updates to brueggek@uww.edu

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