After a sexual assault your body and mind will still be processing the trauma and there is no wrong way to respond. It may feel overwhelming trying to figure out what to do next. Learning about your options can help you decide what’s best for you.
A forensic rape exam, sometimes referred to as a “rape kit,” is a medical exam given when a sexual assault occurs. SANEs (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) are specifically trained to complete this exam and understand the sensitive nature of a trauma. You can always have an advocate with you and you can stop at any time. The benefit of getting an FRE is that you can take care of your immediate medical needs and collect evidence in case you decide to report the assault now or in the future.
In order to preserve evidence, it is recommended not to bathe, use the bathroom, clean or change clothes after an assault. With your permission, the following will happen during your exam:
- Injuries like cuts, scrapes and bruises will be addressed.
- The SANE will ask you about your medical history.
- There will be an external and internal examination.
- The SANE will take blood, hair and urine samples.
- The SANE may document injuries in writing or with photographs.
- The SANE will collect evidence such as clothing, stray hairs and DNA evidence.
- You will be offered treatments for STIs and pregnancy.
You can stop the exam at any time or refuse any part of the exam at any time.
What if I already showered and washed away evidence?
Many survivors instinctively bathe, use the bathroom, clean and change after an assault. If you’ve already done any of these things, you can still get a FRE. A SANE will still be able to treat your injuries, offer preventative care, talk about your options and collect any remaining evidence.
Do I have to report it to the police?
No. Unless you are a minor, a medical professional cannot report a sexual assault without your consent. The evidence collected during the FRE will only be used if you decide to file a report. An advocate can help go over your options to determine if reporting is right for you.
How much will it cost?
New York State law requires medical providers to discuss all billing options with survivors. A survivor may choose to go through their insurance. Another option is for the medical provider to bill the NYS Office of Victim Services directly for reimbursement. This will cost the survivor nothing. An advocate can help you walk through the process.