Accessing Medical Help
After facing sexual assault, you may wish to get medical help to look over injuries, to treat wounds, injuries and PTSD impacts, and to save evidence. In most countries, medical help and support is to be administered free of cost by law. While seeking medical help, here are a few things to remember:
1) In most instances when you seek medical help, there will be a follow up in the form of examinations of your body and medical / forensic investigations. This can be triggering and traumatic, so it is always a good idea to have a good support system to help you through this - you could rely on friends or family, or even seek out the help of an organization around you, or a medical care provider.
2) Record all the physical evidence of the attack. Do not shower, bathe, douche your body, eat or drink, or brush your teeth until you have had a medical examination.
3) Take pictures of your injury, and make sure that your pictures are taken with your face visible in it. Take one picture with the injury and the face, and a second picture zooming in on the injury.
4) Save the clothing you wore during the attack – place each item into a separate paper bag (avoid plastic at all cost).
5) Get medical care right away if you have injuries. Even if you don’t have any injuries that you can see, get a medical examination done anyway, so that you can rule out any STDs or internal injuries. Moreover, a medical examination report is a significant element in the evidence. You may be given preventive treatment to avoid STDs.
6) If you feel like you’ve been given a drug or intoxicated by any external drug, offer up a urine sample for testing. Most drugs are detectable in the urine more often than in the blood stream. Forensic Medical Help
During a medical exam, if you feel that you want to report the sexual assault immediately, or, a little while later, you can request forensic evidence to be collected. Medical forensic evidence comprises taking DNA samples by evaluating blood, sweat, semen, urine, skin tissues and saliva. The extraction of medical forensic evidence will help you submit evidence of your sexual assault and seek out the law enforcement to intervene and take the perpetrator to task.
When one intends to seek out a forensic medical exam, it is important to understand that prior to the medical exam and after the sexual assault (try to keep that time interval to a minimum), one must avoid bathing, showering, using the restroom, changing clothes, combing hair, douching, rubbing or wiping the area. It is perfectly natural and understandable that one may want to do some or all of these things after facing an assault. Try your best not to – however, even after doing so, you can ask for an exam. It might be a good idea to take along a spare set of clothing because sometimes, they may retain your clothing to test for DNA evidence. If you can’t get to a medical forensic examination centre early enough, make sure to preserve your clothing in a paper bag until you can give it to them.
It is most often the case that DNA evidence should be collected within 72 hours of the occurrence of the incident. Usually a medical forensic exam takes a few hours’ time. Take someone along – even an advocate or a women’s organization staff member. During the exam, one is free to ask them to stop, or take a break, or even leave out certain aspects of it if one feels uncomfortable. One is asked about their medical history – particularly allergies, medication if you are on any, pre-existing conditions if they have any, sexual activity and in some instances, if you are able to recount what had happened. Asking about sexual activity is usually done only to construct an accurate history. The entire body is examined externally, and the mouth, vagina and anus are examined internally. Blood, urine and semen swabs and samples maybe taken. Swabs of different body surface areas may also be taken. In some instances, hair samples are also collected. Clothing, particular items and objects may be collected for analysis.
Where can I get a Forensic Medical Exam?
One good bet is to look for specific providers (in countries like the USA, there are specific Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners), while in some countries like India, any registered medical practitioner employed in a hospital run by the Government or a local authority and in the absence of such a practitioner, any other registered medical practitioner with the consent of the survivor can conduct the exam. In most jurisdictions, forensic medical exams are provided free of cost. Using the medical help category listed on this app, you may also ask individual providers if they offer forensic medical support.