Glad You Asked: What is a Sexual Assault Exam, and Where Can I Have One Done?
- May 22, 2020
- Posted by: Lucca Wang
- Categories: 2020, Blog, News
The Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Exam
A sexual assault medical forensic exam has two primary purposes: 1) to provide medical care and treatment for victims of sexual assault; and 2) to collect evidence related to the sexual assault. 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 (SANEs) or Forensic Nurses.
Anyone who is or may be a victim of sexual assault has the right to request an exam. An adult victim does not have to report the sexual assault to law enforcement in order to receive the exam. In cases where the sexual assault is reported to law enforcement, the evidence collected during the exam is turned over to law enforcement and may be used to help with the criminal investigation and may be used in court. Medical professionals are required by law to report suspected abuse of children (a person under 18 years of age) and vulnerable adults (a person 18 years of age or older who is unable to protect their own interests) to law enforcement or the Kansas Department for Children and Families.
During the Exam
If possible, before an exam, a victim should not bathe, shower, brush their teeth, use mouthwash, urinate, defecate, douche, change clothes, eat, drink, or smoke. If they have already done any of these things, they should still get the exam.
The victim may have support persons of their choice present during the exam, including an advocate. The victim can agree to or say no to the entire exam or to any part of the exam. The medical professional will ask questions about the victim’s health and the sexual assault, will check the victim’s body from head to toe, and collect evidence such as clothing, body swabs, and documentation of injuries. Information provided by the victim will help the medical professional provide the best possible treatment of injuries and illnesses, medications to prevent infection or pregnancy, and collection of evidence.
Payment for the Exam
The collection of evidence related to the sexual assault is paid for by the county where the assault occurred. This expense should not be billed to the victim or the victim’s insurance company.
However, expenses related to medical care and treatment will likely be the responsibility of the victim. Any medical treatment of injuries, Sexual Transmitted Infections (STIs) testing, and pregnancy testing are likely considered medical care. Health insurance may be billed for these costs if insurance information is provided. If the sexual assault is reported to law enforcement, Crime Victims’ Compensation may cover some expenses related to medical care and treatment.
Services from a SANE are available in Kansas at the locations on the map available at https://www.kcsdv.org/find-help/in-kansas/sane/. Unfortunately, many of these locations on the map do not have adequate resources to provide SANE services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, not all SANEs are trained to examine children. However, any hospital emergency department in Kansas can provide medical care and treatment.
Victims of sexual assault have the right to have a specially trained advocate who can provide support and help answer questions before, during, and after the exam. These services are offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are free and confidential. Visit the KCSDV website for the list of Kansas sexual and domestic violence service providers and contact information.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-MU-AX-0021 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.
KANSAS CRISIS HOTLINE: 888-END-ABUSE | 888-363-2287