Medical Concerns & Resources
There are a variety of medical concerns you may have, and local resources to address them:
- INJURY: Within 72 hours of a sexual assault, you may have a medical need to be seen by a doctor to treat assault-related injuries. If the assault was more physically violent in nature, there may be internal tearing treatable by a doctor. Injury is also a concern with physical abuse that occurs in dating or domestic violence.
- SEXUALLY-TRANSMITTED DISEASES: It is possible to contract a sexually transmitted disease during a sexual assault. It is recommended that you seek examination, testing, and preventative medicine for STDs if you have been assaulted. It is important that you be seen by a doctor as soon as possible, but if you do not get treated immediately, it is still worthwhile to seek treatment. There are nurse practitioners and/or gynecologists who can treat you at the Student Health Service (for U of D students), Planned Parenthood, or ChristianaCare Medical Center.
- PREGNANCY: Pregnancy is another concern for women. You may receive pregnancy testing via any of the health agencies listed above. Christiana Care Medical Center, Planned Parenthood, and UD’s Student Health Service — Women’s Health Clinic. You may also wish to obtain emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. EC is available over the counter at local pharmacies, or can be purchased at a lower fee at the Student Health Service’s Dispensary. If you use emergency contraceptive, it is most effective if taken within 72 hours after the assault, but it can be used in the first 5 days after unprotected sex or sexual assault.
- EVIDENCE COLLECTION: The ChristianaCare Medical Center has a staff of forensic nurses who can perform a forensic exam to collect evidence in any kind of violent incident (dating/domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, physical assault, homicide, etc.) Note that Evidence collection for sexual assault is sometimes referred to as a “rape kit” and Forensic Nurses are sometimes referred to as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. If you are interested now or think you may be interested at some point in the future in reporting the incident to police, it is important to have evidence collection done as soon as possible after the incident. This evidence is used in conjunction with legal proceedings against the assailant (see Legal Options). Forensic nurses are on staff 24 hours/day and there are private, separate waiting and exam rooms at the ER for patients who need a forensic exam. If you go to the emergency room, let the triage desk know that you have been assaulted and would like to be seen by the Forensic nurse. This will put you on a faster track to be seen, examined, and released (when possible based on how busy the ER is that day and how many traumas they must treat.) If you are unsure whether or not you wish to press charges, Christiana ER has the ability to store the evidence collected for up to 30 days, often longer as space is available, to allow victims more time to decide whether or not to report to police. Evidence collection is most successful within the first 24-48 hours after the assault, and it is recommended that you do not shower prior to examination, as showering will cause evidence to be lost. Within the first 72 is considered the best window of time, although there are other signs of assault that can appear later (such as bruising, scars).
- TRANSPORTATION: University of Delaware Police, 302-831-2222, can provide transport to the Student Health Service or to the Christiana Hospital for University students, whether the assault happened on campus or in Newark. An S.O.S. advocate can arrange this transport and if desired, can accompany the victim. An unmarked car can be requested for the transport. Public Safety does not need to be informed of the reason for transport (beyond “medical care”) in order to utilize this service.
- POLICE REPORTING: If you are interested in reporting to police, call 911 and let the dispatcher know where the incident occurred. Location of the crime is critical to determining the appropriate police agency to take the report. You do not need to provide the details over the phone, unless you are in immediate danger or need urgent assistance. UD offers amnesty to students who were underage and intoxicated when sexually assaulted; UD will not bring alcohol or drug charges against a victim who wishes to report the more severe felony crime of sexual assault.
- TESTING FOR DATE RAPE DRUGS: As part of the forensic medical exam, Christiana Care Medical Center will do a typical toxicology screening, but they do not routinely test for date rape drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol, or Ketamine. Most victims are unable to get urine tested for date rape drugs because signs of these drugs leave the body at first urination. If you suspect you have been drugged, you may collect the first urine after waking up in a clean, dry container. You can refrigerate or freeze your sample and bring it to the hospital with you or send it to a private company offering this testing. Urine kept in this way can be tested for Rohypnol days and even weeks after collection. In addition, some private companies offer testing via hair follicles and claim to be able to produce accurate information even 6 months after the date in question. However, these tests are costly and are typically incurred by victims.