Help if you have just been assaulted
If you are a victim of a rape or sexual assault that just happened go to a hospital emergency room as quickly as possible.
Health and safety are the major concerns.
If the victim is a child, please click here.
Being sexually assaulted is a very traumatic experience. A Foothills Alliance advocate is available 24 hours a day to accompany you to a local hospital in Anderson or Oconee county. You do not have to go through this alone and we will provide support, assistance, and information to you at no charge. While it is not necessary for you to report the assault immediately, we encourage you to at least go to the hospital and get a rape kit done within 72 hours of the attack. A rape kit, firstly, preserves the evidence of the assasult if you wish to press charges, but more importantly, the rape kit will ensure your health and safety. This is the only chance to collect evidence. After 72 hours, very little, if any, evidence is available on the body to be collected. It is imperative that you do not bathe yourself or get rid of or wash the clothes you were wearing when you were attacked, doing so can destroy vital evidence. If you have changed clothes, place the clothes you were wearing during the assault in a bag and take them with you to the hospital. Do not eat, drink, smoke, comb your hair, brush your teeth, urinate, defecate, or douche before going to the emergency room. However, if you have already done these things, please don't let this stop you from seeking medical care.
At the hospital, you will be provided with:
> immediate medical attention for injuries you cannot see or even feel.
> preventative treatment of sexually trasmitted disaseases (STDs) and pregnancy.
> sexual assault evidence collection kit and medical exam at no cost to the victim.
> options: the anonymous reporting option (age 18 or older) or traditional law enforcement involved report.
> confidentiality and a private place to wait.
> clothing to wear home.
Frequently Asked Questions
> How long will I be at the hospital?
Sexual Assault victims have priority after life-threatening cases in the emergency room. If you have endured a long wait, it is okay to ask to be seen more quickly. The sexual assault evidence collection kit (a.k.a. rape kit or forensic evidence exam) takes approximately 1 to 2 hours; however, all sexual assault cases are different and the length of time can vary anywhere from 2 hours to 5 hours.
> I feel afraid and alone: can someone stay with me?
Yes, Foothills Alliance offers free crisis support (trained volunteer advocates) to all sexual assault victims in Anderson and Oconee County. An advocate will be called when you arrive at the hospital. They are available to provide emotional support and information about the exam. Foothills Alliance advocates can stay with you or your family during the entire exam process. If at any time, you feel uncomfortable having the advocate in the examination room, you can ask them to step outside.
> Do I have to wait in the general waiting room?
Most hospitals will provide a private place for you and/or your family to wait before being taken back to an exam room. If they do not, it is okay to ask to be put in a private area.
> What questions will I be asked?
In order to provide you with the best possible medical care, the medical staff will ask you detailed questions about the assault. Medical staff will also check you for any injuries that you may not be aware of. Please tell the doctor about any pain, injuries, bruises, or concerns that you may have. If you choose to proceed with the traditional reporting option, a law enforcement officer or investigator will come to the emergency room to ask questions as well. In most cases, law enforcement will obtain the incident report information at the same time as the medical staff. This is done in order to prevent retaumatization from telling the story of the assault several different times.
>Who will conduct the exam?
Some hospitals have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (a.k.a. SANE nurses). A SANE is a registered nurse who has received specialized education and fulfilled clinical requirements to perform forensic evidence examinations of patients who report sexual assault. If a SANE is working when you arrive in the hospital emergency room, they will be assigned to your case. If there is not a SANE available at that time
or at that particular hospital, a registered nurse will perform part of your forensic exam and a medical doctor will perform other parts of the forensic and medical exam.
> Will I be examined by a nurse or doctor of the opposite sex?
You can request a medical doctor or nurse of the same sex; however, this may not always be possible. This request may take additional time.
> What is the difference between a medical exam and a forensic evidence exam?
It is important to understand that a medical exam differs from a forensic evidence exam. A forensic evidence exam is a legal - not medical - procedure administered by a SANE, nurse, or medical doctor. A medical exam is where a nurse or medical doctor will check for external or internal uinjuries, such as bruises, tears, or cuts, and your overall health. For females, the medical exam will include a pelvic examination to ensure that the vagina has not been injured. The forensic evidence exam will collect any foreign hairs, dirt, debris, saliva, semen, and/or skin that may have been left on your body as a result of the assault. Even if you decide not to have a forensic evidence exam, it is important for you to have a medical exam.
If you decide to press charges, the evidence collected in the forensic evidence exam will be used as evidence in your case and/or in court. If you are not sure about pressing charges, it is still very important to have the forensic evidence exam so that evidence is preserved. Under the new anonymous rape reporting option (age 18 or older), you do have the choice to proceed with a forensic evidence exam but NOT include law enforcement at that time. The medical staff will still perform the forensic evidence and medical exams in order to collect evidence. That evidence can be stored for a period of up to one year or until the time a victim initiates a police report and investigation, whichever comes first. After one year, the evidence will be destroyed. This options provides time for you to decide if you want to move forward with the police report and the investigation once the initial trauma of the assault has lessened.
> What happens during the forensic evidence exam?
Once consent to perform the exam is obtained, a medical history is taken by the SANE or nurse. Then the SANE or nurse must write down your account of what happened to determine injuries, places to check for evidence and DNA, and appropriate medical treatment. The next step is a head-to-toe examination (including the vaginal area) and use of an ultraviolet light to help locate evidence. If there are any injuries such as bite marks, bruising, tearing, cuts, or scrapes, the SANE or nurse will take pictures as a part of evidence collection. Your fingernails may be scraped underneath and, in most cases, a sample of your head and public hair will be collected. Your mouth will be swabbed for a saliva sample and the medical doctor or SANE will swab your anus (if an anal assault occurred) and/or vaginal area.
> Will I be tested for STDs, pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS?
You will be tested for some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS. These tests determine whether a STD, pregnancy, and/or HIV/AIDS existed before you were assaulted. Follow up tests at a later date are necessary and are the responsibility of the survivor.
> I am worried that I am pregnant. Can they give me something to prevent pregnancy?
The "Plan B" pill (a.k.a. the "morning after treatment") will be offered to you. The SANE or nurse can explain the risks and side effects. This pill must be administered to you during the first 72 hours after the assault. This procedure does not terminate a pregnancy, it simply prevents a pregnancy from occurring in a manner synonymous with birth control pills.
> Do I have to talk to the police and press charges?
The options available to adults (age 18 and older) are: 1) the traditional reporting option, when a law enforcement agency is contacted, a police report is made, and police begin an investigation; and 2) the new anonymous reporting option gives you the choice to proceed with a forensic evidence and medical exam but NOT include law enforcement at that time. Law enforcement will be called by the SANE or nurse when the forensic evidence exam has been completed and sealed. That evidence can be stored for a period of up to one year or until the time a victim initiates a police report and investigation, whichever comes first. After one year, the evidence will be destroyed. This option provides time for you to move forward with police report and investigation once the initial trauma of the assault has lessened.
> Will I have to pay for the forensic evidence exam?
The State of South Carolina must make certain that a victim of sexual assault must not pay the cost of his/her forensic evidence exam. The exam must include treatment for STDs and medication for pregnancy prevention. Hospital charges for evidence collection, whether he/she decides to report to police or report anonymously, will be paid for by the South Carolina Office of Victim Assistance (SOVA) as long as the evidence is collected.
> I feel confused. Is there someone I can talk to about what happened to me?
Foothills Alliance provides long-term support services and therapy for survivors of sexual assault. The Foothills Alliance advocate can provide you with information about our services. Our services are free to sexual assault survivors in Anderson and Oconee Counties and are completely confidential. Please click here to learn more about counseling.