Medical and Physical Concerns
WHY SHOULD I GET MEDICAL ATTENTION?
- To take the first step towards regaining control of your life.
- To determine if you have been injured in any way. Frequently following an assault, the survivor is in a state of shock and may be totally unaware of any injuries.
- To be tested for and to discuss treatment and prevention options available in regards to sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
- To collect medical evidence for possible prosecution if and when a suspect is caught. It is vital that this evidence be collected as soon as possible. It will be destroyed as time passes and you begin to resume everyday activities (eating, drinking, urinating, bathing, etc.).
WHERE CAN I GO FOR MEDICAL CARE?
Go to the closest medical facility. Tell them that you are a victim of sexual assault so they will get you scheduled as soon as possible.
- St. Cloud Hospital Emergency Trauma Center
1406 6th Ave North St. Cloud, MN 56303
- Evidence exams, treatment for injuries, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy tests, and emergency contraception
- SCSU Health Services
Hill Hall, SCSU Campus
- Does not do evidence exams, but does provide treatment for injuries, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy tests, emergency contraception and forensic photographs if requested.
Do not bathe, douche, urinate, drink any liquids, smoke, eat, brush your teeth or change your clothes. If you have already changed your clothes, take the clothes with you that you had on during the assault and put them in a paper bag (not plastic). Do not throw away any bed sheets, condoms or anything else that could be potential evidence. It is important that evidence be collected as soon as possible after the assault and within 72 hours. However some evidence may still be able to be collected up to 120 hours after the assault.
You do not have to decide about reporting to campus or law enforcement right away, but collecting evidence now will give you more options later if you decide to report.
Consider an evidence exam
Upon your request, the emergency trauma center will do an evidentiary exam (also known as a rape kit) for the purpose of collecting evidence. A victim has a choice about whether to report to law enforcement or not, however it is important that evidence be collected as soon as possible after the assault.
If you are unsure about reporting at this time, you can have the evidence exam done now and take some time to consider your reporting options. The hospital will store the evidence kit for up to four months. Having the evidence exam now will give you more options later if you decide to report.
The St. Cloud Hospital Emergency Trauma Center is equipped to do sexual assault evidence exams. When a victim arrives at the St. Cloud Hospital, a trained sexual assault advocate from the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center will be contacted immediately.
If you are not in the St. Cloud area, please seek care at the hospital trauma center closest to you. Most major hospitals are equipped to do sexual assault evidence exams, treat injuries, provide treatment for sexually transmitted infections and provide emergency contraception.
According to Minnesota law, you will not be billed for the evidence exam.
If you choose not to have an evidence exam
If you choose not to have an evidence exam done, you may still want to seek medical care. Medical care following sexual assault can include treatment for injuries, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy testing, and emergency contraception.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT THE HOSPITAL TRAUMA CENTER?
Emergency rooms of hospitals are busy places. It would be nice to say that you will be treated immediately, but this is not always the case. Emergency Trauma Center personnel care about victims, and will get to you as soon as possible. You may want to ask someone to bring you a change of clothes, because your clothing may be collected for evidence. If you do not have a change of clothing the hospital will provide sweatpants and a sweatshirt for you to wear home.
ANY WAIT, no matter how short or how long, may be uncomfortable.
You may want to use this time to concentrate on yourself and your health. You are the victim/survivor of a sexual assault and you have the right to whatever medical treatment you need.
When checking in, you will be asked several questions such as:
- The reason for your visit to the hospital
- Name, Address, Age and Occupation
This is very important information which will be used to begin your medical report. Although it seems trivial after what you have been through, please provide as much information as you can.
You may find it difficult to explain your needs to the nurse. Although you do not need to give the nurse all the details of the assault, you will have to say you were sexually assaulted in order to receive the proper treatment.
At the St. Cloud Hospital, an advocate from the Central MN Sexual Assault Center will be there to listen to your needs or fears and help in whatever way possible. Do not hesitate to tell the advocate what you need or want. They are there just for you.
You have the right to be accompanied through each medical procedure by the advocate, registered nurse and by a friend or relative of your choice. You also have the right to choose total privacy during the emergency room treatment. This means that you can ask anyone other than the necessary hospital personnel to leave the room during the examination.
Collecting the evidence
The St. Cloud Hospital Emergency Trauma Center will do an initial assessment to determine the extent of any physical injury and possible treatments. You will be provided with information on treatment options for sexually transmitted diseases, and female sexual assault victims will be provided with information on emergency contraception and will be given a pregnancy test.
Before the examination you will be asked about the sexual assault. It is very important that you tell someone what sexual acts were performed against your will (vaginal intercourse, oral copulation, anal intercourse, or any other sexual acts). You may not understand the questions or you may feel embarrassed when you answer them. It is alright to feel uncomfortable. Let the nurse or doctor know of your discomfort and feel free to ask questions as needed. You are not expected to know all the medical terms, so do not be afraid to ask for explanations.
As part of the exam, swabs, hair samples and blood samples will be taken. In addition, photographs of injuries may also be taken. Collection of evidence may not always be comfortable, but it is important and it is you taking back control. Feel free to ask for a break if you need it.
WHAT IF I MIGHT BE PREGNANT?
Emergency contraception (E.C.) is considered a safe and effective medication for the prevention of pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or sexual assault. Sold under the brand names of Plan B and Preven, it is a high dose of the standard birth control pill.
Emergency contraception is not an abortion procedure. Emergency contraception dramatically reduces the chances of getting pregnant following a sexual assault. The use of emergency contraception reduces the chances of pregnancy by 75–89% if taken within the first 72 hours after an assault. Timing is important: the sooner emergency contraceptives are administered the more likely they are to prevent a pregnancy. However, you can take emergency contraception up to 5 days (120 hours) after the assault.
Side effects include nausea and vomiting, but usually taper off within one or two days after the second dose has been taken. You may need to ask specifically for the emergency contraception if it is something you want. In Minnesota, hospitals are required to provide emergency contraception in cases of sexual assault. If you are 18 or older, you can get emergency contraception over the counter. It is also available at Planned Parenthood and SCSU Student Health Services.
WHAT IF I THINK I HAVE BEEN DRUGGED?
Signs that you may have been drugged:
- If you feel a lot more intoxicated than your usual response to the amount of alcohol you have consumed.
- If you wake up very hung over, feeling “fuzzy”, experience memory lapse and cannot account for a period of time, or that sensation lasts longer than usual.
- If you remember taking a drink of any kind of beverage but cannot recall what happened for a period of time after you consumed the drink.
- If you feel as though someone had sex with you but you cannot remember any or all of the incident.
Listen to yourself
Do not doubt what you feel. Don’t listen to acquaintances who may have been around you that night who tell you that you were “really messed up.” Drugs like Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) will make you seem drunk or high when you have had nothing or very little to drink. Go with your instincts. You know when something has happened to you.
Call a trusted friend or family member. You’ll need someone with you that can think clearly, because chances are, the drugs are making it hard for you to think. Drugs used to facilitate rape leave the body quickly; it is important to go to the hospital immediately so a urine sample can be gathered. When you arrive at the emergency trauma center, tell them immediately that you suspect that you were drugged.
Date Rape Drugs
The most common date rape drug is alcohol. Offenders don’t always use force to get what they want; sometimes their weapon is alcohol or other drugs. When drugs are dropped into your drink they can incapacitate you so you no longer have control over your body.
A variety of different substances can be tools used to carry out sexual assault crimes. Offenders may drop substances in your alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. Pay attention to your drink at all times. It may be someone you know and trust, or it could be a stranger. Some drugs used to facilitate a sexual assault are colorless and odorless and may be tasteless. Depending on the drug, its effects on you may vary.
SHOULD I HAVE FOLLOW UP MEDICAL CARE?
Yes, it is very important for you to continue your care with a health care provider or clinic of your choice. You should plan to have three to five follow-up visits. The first follow-up visit, at one or two weeks following the assault, may include follow up testing and treatment of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It may also include discussion of other mental or physical health concerns. The second follow-up visit, at three months, may include continued testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and discussion of other mental or physical health concerns. The third visit, at six months, may include HIV testing.
Follow-up appointments can be made with your personal doctor, Planned Parenthood, or SCSU Health Services, but must be made to insure that you receive the appropriate medical treatment. Feel free to discuss all of your concerns with the health care provider you choose. By addressing your needs as they occur and by making appropriate referrals, your health care provider will be more able to aid you in the healing process.
WHO PAYS FOR THE MEDICAL COSTS?
As the victim of a violent crime such as rape or sexual assault, the injury you received because of the assault may require medical and/or psychological care. The cost of a sexual assault evidentiary exam conducted for the purpose of evidence collection is paid for by the county in which the assault occurred. Payment by the county for the exam is not dependent on the victim reporting the crime to law enforcement.
While the county in which the assault occurred pays for the medical exam and evidence collection, you may be responsible for payments for related injuries or follow-up care. If you do not have insurance, and you have reported the crime to the police, you may ask the State of Minnesota to reimburse you for any medical, emotional, or financial losses by filing for Crime Victims Reparations. Reparations help crime victims with some financial losses that result from a crime. Ask your advocate for specific details of eligibility and where to get the forms. You can also visit https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ojp/help-for-crime-victims/pages/default.aspx for more information.