PETER J. JACOBY
MD, Chairman, Emergency Department
St. Mary's Health Systems
Connecticut Commission on Standardization of Collection of Evidence
As an Emergency Physician and a member of the State of Connecticut Commission of the Standardization of Collection of Evidence and Sexual Assault Investigations since 1993, I hope that the following is helpful and useful to any victim of the crime of Sexual Assault. When presenting to the Emergency Department, one needs to be clear and concise in speaking with the triage nurse who is the first medical person encountered. State that your complaint is personal and private and once you are comfortable with the privacy, tell them you were sexually assaulted (raped) and request to see a physician.
At that point, you will be moved into an examining room. A physician will be in to examine you for any potential injuries to the body in general. You have the right to request a Sexual Assault Crisis Worker to be present and guide you and help you with any and all other issues involved with the sexual assault. Also, depending on the state in which you live, you may be seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner who will do the evidence collection.
The collection of evidence is done if less than 72 hours has occurred since the time of the sexual assault. This collection of evidence will aid in the prosecution of any individual charged with the assault. Even if you are not sure if you are going to prosecute or carry the case to trial, it is strongly recommended that the evidence be collected as soon as possible following the assault.
With your permission police personnel will be called if you have not already spoken with them. This is done in order to allow the police to obtain all the factual evidence so that the person who committed the act can be apprehended and successfully prosecuted.
The actual collection of evidence goes from the least invasive to the most invasive. By that we mean the evaluation of your clothing and collection of areas that might have stains, the overall evaluation of your body including hair samples and then the examination and collection of evidence from any of the body cavities that may have been penetrated. Any and all details that you can remember should be shared with the examining practitioner especially in regards to bathing, washing, etc. If you cannot remember the actual assault itself or think you have been drugged, this should be conveyed to the examiner as well so that a drug evaluation kit can be obtained to see if you, the victim, have been given any type of medicines that could produce these symptoms.
After the full examination is done, you should receive counseling about pregnancy and the ability to prevent it as well as treatment for any possible sexually transmitted disease. Depending on the nature of the incident this may include HIV prophylaxis as well. Following this you should be referred to the Sexual Assault Counselor and to a physician/clinic for appropriate follow-up. One should also consider pursuing therapy beyond this follow-up because the collection of evidence and an Emergency Department evaluation is only one part of the ordeal. In order to successfully recover from this event, you should receive on-going counseling and support as well.