Once a survivor arrives at an emergency medical facility, professionals certified
in evidence collection perform a forensic exam or SAFE Kit (Sexual Assault Forensic
Exam). The SAFE EXAM will sometimes not be done until the police have been called,
however, calling the police or even talking with them while participating in the collection
of evidence does not mean that the survivor is required to follow through on prosecution
or file a formal report.
A survivor is required to sign a consent form before an exam can be performed. The
evidence gathered during the forensic examination can be signed over to the police
investigators and taken to the state police laboratory for analysis, or it can be
held while the survivor decides if he/she wants to pursue a criminal investigation.
If you wish to complete an evidence collection kit (“SAFE kit”), you can do so at
the local hospitals. An advocate from the Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP)
can assist you in setting up an appointment time and explain the process to you.
If you wish to report the sexual assault to the police, officers will also assist
you in obtaining an exam. You can still have an exam performed, even if you do not
wish to report to the police.
For evidence collection, it is best if you do not:
- Brush your teeth
- Eat or drink
- Change clothes
However, the exam can be performed even if you have done some of the things listed
About the Exam
- The examination is similar to a general OB/GYN exam and begins with taking information
about what happened.
- The exam is generally completed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
(SANE). The overall purpose for the exam is to make sure the patient is not injured
and to gather evidence from the survivor’s body. Whether the survivor is male or female,
the exam includes specimens gathered from the part of the body that was assaulted
including internal and external genital areas. Additionally, samples are usually obtained
from fingernails, hair and mouth.
- Survivors must sign a consent form before an exam can be done. All survivors have
a right to have the examination explained prior to giving consent. Also, survivors
have the right to refuse any part of the examination.
- There is no fee for this examination although some hospitals/centers may charge for
lab work, radiology services etc.
- All survivors have the right to have an advocate present during the entire exam and
hospital visit. An advocate from the Campus Violence Prevention Program or counselor
from Counseling and Disability Services is available to accompany all survivors.
- The examining doctor or nurse will need to ask questions about the assault in order
to make decisions about the type of examination necessary. Survivors may need to answer
questions that are uncomfortable regarding the types of sexual acts involved. These
questions may sound intrusive but are asked in a non-judgmental manner.
- Survivors will be examined externally to check for any signs of injury and contact.
All signs of injury will be documented.
- Photographs may be taken to document any visible trauma to the body.
- Clothing worn by the survivor is also taken for analysis, although this does not usually
include coats and shoes. When possible, survivors should bring clothing to change
into following the exam. Clothing given to the police will be used for evidence and
will not be returned. If you have already changed your clothing, place the clothing
you had on at the time of the assault in a paper bag, preferably one item per bag.
Try not to use plastic, as it can destroy evidence.
- Hospitals will do baseline testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some
facilities will give medications/prescriptions as preventative treatment and survivors
will be given information and access to emergency contraception (EC).
- If a survivor believes he/she was drugged prior to the sexual assault, it is important
to disclose that information so that a drug screen can be done. Survivors of sexual
violence are granted amnesty from University discipline for drug and alcohol behavior
related to their assault.