After a sexual assault, you may wish to seek medical attention to determine if you have suffered physical injuries and to collect any evidence left behind by the person who sexually assaulted you.
The care and evidence collection process performed at the hospital is called a sexual assault forensic exam, also known as a “rape exam” or “rape kit.” Rape exams are free and can reveal injuries that may not be easily seen. Swabs and envelopes are used to collect possible evidence from the body.
The exam also includes:
- Treatment for possible sexually transmitted infections (STIs or STDs)
- Medication to prevent pregnancy (emergency contraception), if desired
- Information about follow-up medical care, community resources and support
If you go to the hospital, the sexual assault will likely be reported to the police. However, you do not have to talk to the police in order to get a forensic exam. You can decide later whether or not to talk to police.
Evidence collection is best conducted as soon as possible after a sexual assault. Hospitals have different time frames for providing care and collecting evidence, but all hospitals will provide an exam within 72 hours of an assault. Some hospitals in Pennsylvania have extended the time frame for evidence collection up to 120 hours. Check with your local rape crisis center or emergency department for this information
If you decide not to go to the hospital, or if it is after the exam time frame, you may go to your family doctor or a clinic to be tested and treated for STIs and to discuss pregnancy risk.
An advocate from the local rape crisis center can help you with your decisions and provide more information. Call 1-888-772-7227 to contact your local crisis center or search for your center on our interactive map.