Why Should I Seek Medical Care?
In times of emotional stress, people tend to minimize their own feelings out of self-protection or consideration for the feelings of people they love. Although you may feel fine physically, your body may be numbed by a state of shock, so it’s important to seek medical care as soon as possible. You may need treatment even if there are no visible signs of physical injury. If you choose to have evidence collected, the sooner this is done, the more reliable and potentially useful the evidence will be. A sexual assault exam and evidence collection can be conducted up to 120 hours (five days) after the assault.
It is important to seek medical care after a sexual assault in order to:
- be examined and treated for any injuries;
- be treated for exposure to sexually transmitted infections;
- be offered emergency contraception;
- collect physical and biological evidence should you decide to report the assault to the police for possible prosecution of the offender.
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Students on the Storrs campus may also seek treatment from the University’s Student Health Services, including the University’s Women’s Health Clinic. Student Health Services will assist with arranging for a sexual assault exam.
Hospital Emergency Department:
Victims of sexual assault may seek treatment from any hospital emergency department.
The SAFE Program: the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) Program is a Judicial Branch, Office of Victim Services program that provides participating hospitals with 24/7 access to specially trained healthcare providers who provide compassionate and culturally sensitive care to adult and adolescent victims of sexual assault. Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners, called SAFEs, conduct sexual assault exams (also called medical-forensic exams) to identify injuries, collect and document physical evidence using a standardized evidence collection kit including assessment and evidence collection in suspected drug-facilitated sexual assaults. They also conduct risk evaluation for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and ensure the provision of preventive medications and emergency contraception. Additionally, SAFEs provide resources and referrals for follow-up at discharge. SAFEs are trained in courtroom testimony.
Participating hospitals in the SAFE Program include: Hartford Hospital, The Hospital of Central Connecticut (New Britain campus), Manchester Hospital, Middlesex Hospital, Saint Francis Hospital, and Windham Hospital.
A sexual assault exam and evidence collection can be conducted up to 120 hours (five days) after the assault.
- If seeking treatment directly after the assault, please do not:
- Change clothes (bring, or have someone bring, a change of clothes)
- Shower or bathe
- Wash or wipe
- Brush your teeth
- If you must use the bathroom, do no wipe, only dab.
Taking these precautions before the sexual assault exam allows you to keep your legal options open as long as possible. These activities can destroy evidence.
- If seeking treatment and it is not directly after the assault:
- Place the clothes you wore at the time of the incident in a paper bag (not plastic). Bring them with you to the emergency room. Let your nurse or doctor know you have them, and tell them if you have done anything else (washed, etc.) before you arrived. Bring an extra pair of underwear with you.