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Why should a victim of sexual assault visit a hospital?

Seeking medical care after a sexual assault is highly recommended for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, seeking medical attention can uncover physical harm done by the person who sexually assaulted you that may not be evident. An exam could also prevent sexually transmitted infections or diseases and pregnancy.

Forensic evidence collection is most commonly collected within 72 hours of an assault, but 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.

To preserve evidence collection, victims should not shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, smoke, clean up, urinate, or change your clothes. If you have already changed, place the clothes that you were wearing in a paper bag and bring them to the hospital. If you must urinate let the nurse know as soon as possible so she can collect the specimen. If you have already done any of these things, evidence may still be collected. Don't assume that all evidence has been destroyed. You may wish to take an extra set of clothes with you to the hospital if you are wearing the clothing you had on at the time of the assault. The clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault may be collected as evidence.

Learn more about medical services for sexual assault survivors here.