Sexual Assault Forensic Exam
Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
A sexual assault forensic exam is a comprehensive medical and forensic examination. It addresses health care concerns, and could lead to the evidence collected being used in court. The exam is performed by a doctor, a specially trained physician’s assistant, or a specially trained registered nurse. Specially trained registered nurses may also be called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners or Forensic Nurses. You have a right to receive an exam after a sexual assault if you choose to have one. You do not have to report to law enforcement to receive the exam. However, if you are under 18, the health care provider must file a report of child abuse to the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) or law enforcement. Health care providers must also report gunshot wounds and life-threatening stab wounds to police. Health care providers are also required to report abuse of adults who cannot protect their own interests to DCF.
If you want, a specially trained sexual assault advocate can be with you during the exam. They can provide emotional support during the exam and talk to you about resources in your community. Advocates can provide crisis counseling, support services, and information about recovering from sexual assault. If you choose to report the sexual assault to law enforcement, you can ask that the advocate be present while filing the report and throughout the investigation.
If you are thinking about getting an exam, there are some things you can avoid doing to protect the evidence that may be on your body or your clothes. Do not bathe, shower, brush your teeth, use mouthwash, urinate, defecate, douche, change clothes, eat, drink, or smoke. If you have already done any of these things, it is okay. You can still get an exam, and the health care provider may still be able to gather some evidence.
The exam is designed to meet your health care needs and gather the best evidence of the sexual assault. The health care provider doing the exam will be using the sexual assault evidence collection kit (kit). You should be asked to sign a consent form permitting the exam. You can agree to the exam, part of the exam, and can change your mind at any point during the exam. Read the consent form carefully and fill it out appropriately. The health care provider and the advocate can help you to understand everything on the forms. Ask questions if anything is confusing or unclear.
The health care provider will ask questions about you and the sexual assault. These questions are necessary to find out the best way to perform the exam. Your responses will lead to the best possible medical care and evidence collection.
Your clothing and underwear may be collected as part of the exam. The health care provider will ask you to undress while standing on a bed sheet. Your clothing may be taken from you along with debris that may have fallen off when you undressed. Your clothing may be kept with the kit. If you do not have any additional clothing, the hospital or the advocate can provide clothing to you.
The health care provider will then collect as much evidence of the sexual assault from your body as possible. This could include removing fibers, hairs and other foreign matter from your body. Your pubic hair may be combed for evidence and 10-20 pubic hairs pulled. Swabs may be taken from all over body including your genitals, anus, chest, neck and mouth. A blood and urine sample may be collected. The health care provider may also pull 25-30 of your head hairs and scrape under your fingernails. Any injuries on your body will be identified, photographed, documented, and treated if necessary.
The health care provider should also discuss testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy with you. The health care provider should provide information about preventive treatment for STIs and pregnancy. They may swab for cultures for the STIs and take urine for a pregnancy test. In most cases, these tests will not reveal if you are pregnant or have contracted an STI because of the sexual assault. You may receive medication to prevent STI’s and pregnancy. If you do not get treatment for STIs, you should follow up with a health care provider within one week. If the results are negative, you should repeat STI testing at six weeks, three months and six months after the assault. If your next period is late or you experience other signs of pregnancy, you should follow up with a health care provider to conduct a pregnancy test. It is also important to continue receiving regular health care.
When the exam is done, the health care provider will give you follow-up care instructions. This is also a time for you to ask any remaining questions.
If the sexual assault is reported to law enforcement, they will take your kit. If law enforcement is not available, the medical care facility can keep your kit temporarily.
If you are not reporting the sexual assault to law enforcement at the time of the exam, you will get an identification number. Your identification number is a unique number from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI). It is used to identify your kit. If you lose the identification number, contact the medical facility that did the exam. A record of your identification number will be kept in your medical record.
The kit will be sent to the KBI in Topeka for storage. Your identification number will be on the kit, but your name will not. The evidence will be stored for up to five years. If you have not reported within five years, the evidence will be destroyed.
Evidence will not be processed until a report is filed with local law enforcement, and they request the kit be processed. You may never learn the results of the exam.
Your clothing may never be returned to you. If you do not report the assault to law enforcement, your clothing will be destroyed with the kit after five years. If you do report the assault to law enforcement, your clothing may eventually be returned to you, but may have small samples cut out of it.
Also, remember to follow the health care provider’s instructions about care after the exam is complete. These instructions are provided to you so your health care needs can be addressed.
If you have any questions or concerns after the exam, advocates are available to assist you. Advocates can provide free and confidential support services to you at any time.
Kansas law says that the county where the sexual assault happened must pay for the exam. This is true whether you report to law enforcement or not. You should not be billed for the forensic exam. You are responsible for payment of all health care costs. For example, STI treatment and testing, pregnancy testing, and treatment of injuries are health care. You must pay the medical facility for these types of services. Your health insurance provider may be billed for these costs. If you are reporting the sexual assault to law enforcement, you may be able to get crime victim’s compensation to recover medical costs and some other expenses. For more information about crime victim’s compensation contact:
Crime Victims Compensation Board
120 SW 10th Ave, 2nd floor
Topeka, KS 6612-1597
(785) 296-2359 Telephone
(785) 296-0652 Fax
If you have any additional questions, you can call the Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-END-ABUSE (1-888-363-2287). Find the sexual assault advocacy program near you (from “Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Programs and Crisis Numbers by City” below, or the sexual assault nurse examiner program closest to you.
KANSAS CRISIS HOTLINE: 888-END-ABUSE | 888-363-2287