Sexual Assault – it’s not something you want to think about. 1 of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. If the unthinkable happens to you or one of your besties, it’s important to know what a sexual exam feels like.
How do I get a Rape Kit done?
First things first, you need to get yourself to a safe place. Once your immediate safety is ensured, you should go to a health care provider. You can call 800.656.HOPE (4673) and they can help guide you to the right health care facility and offer advice. It may be helpful to bring along a trusted friend or family member to support you.
Avoid taking a shower, going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth, or changing your clothes before you go to the exam. While I completely understand the desire to want to have a shower after something like that, all those things can reduce the amount of evidence that doctors are able to collect.
If you require a sexual assault exam, it’s best to do it as soon as possible. This will ensure that the most evidence is able to be collected. But valuable evidence can still be found if you decide to have the exam done later.
What does it feel like?
A sexual assault exam, or “Rape Kit,” will help assess what medical attention you need and also collect evidence if you decide to report the assault. You should not be charged for a sexual assault exam. Some can feel shy or embarrassed about the exam, but the examiners have seen everything you could imagine under the sun and NO one is judging or scrutinizing you. They are there to help you.
During the exam, the examiner will first attend to any injuries you have that need urgent attention. They will then ask you about your medical history and about what happened during the assault. These questions may be difficult to answer, but they can help identify all areas of injury and ensure you get the medical care you need, so it’s important to tell the examiner everything.
Next, they will perform a physical examination. This may involve examinations of your mouth and vagina. This can be fleetingly uncomfortable but usually doesn’t take long. They may also take samples of your urine, blood, hair, any debris under your fingernails, and swabs of your skin. Again, sometimes slightly uncomfortable but over with super quick. The examiner may take pictures to document your injures and, if you give permission, take your clothing as evidence.
The examiner will also help you get emergency contraception and treatment for any potential STIs. They will also explain the process for reporting and direct you to support systems for sexual assault survivors. Sometimes, they will also schedule a follow up appointment.
If at any time you feel uncomfortable, you can stop the exam.
Do I need to go to the Police?
If you’ve had a sexual assault exam, you don’t need to report the crime if you don’t want to. It’s totally up to you. After having an exam, the forensic evidence will be stored and you will have time to decide what you’d like to do. The only exception to this is if you’re a minor, as the examiner may be required by law to report the crime. If you do decide to report the crime, having a sexual assault exam will help with prosecution.
You’ve experienced a traumatic event and it’s going to take time to deal with the emotional effects. A sexual assault exam, if you choose to have one, can be a valuable step in healing.
For additional support, you can access the National Sexual Assault Hotline’s 24/7 chat service here. You can also call their 24-hour phone service at 800.656.HOPE (4673).
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