What is it?
The Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, also called a ‘rape kit’, is an exam that checks for and documents physical evidence of sexual battery, sexual assault, or rape, and may be conducted up to 5 days after the incident. To best preserve evidence, one should not bathe, shower, brush teeth, or go to the bathroom until after the forensic exam. Evidence from a forensic exam can be used in prosecuting sexual assault cases through the criminal justice system.
How does it work?
A sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) or doctor will begin the exam by asking about your medical history and health, and may ask about characteristics or details of the assault. A physical exam will be performed and samples from various parts of the body may be collected to test for DNA. A toxicology test may also be done to test for drugs in the system, and clothing may be kept as evidence.
Will the police be notified that I got a forensic exam?
Most often, the Nurse Examiner will notify the police, but you are not required to speak to them or disclose any identifying information. You can let the Nurse Examiner know that you would like to request anonymity, and the police will not come to the hospital while you are there or receive your name.
How are forensic exams used?
After the exam, the Nurse Examiner will document the findings in a medical record, which can later be subpoenaed to assist in the legal process.
Do I need to pay for it?
In California, forensic exams are paid for by the local jurisdiction (through California Victim's Services), not by you. If you receive additional medical assessments or treatments, you may need to pay for them personally or through insurance. In New York, the hospital may ask for your insurance, however, you can choose to bill the Office of Victim Services. Forensic exams are paid for by the Office of Victim Services in the State of New York.
Can I have someone with me?
You can have a support person (or people) of your choice such as a friend, family member, or advocate accompany you throughout the medical care process.Back to top
After an experience of unwanted sexual contact, you may consider seeking medical treatment, such as:
- STI treatment and testing and/or discussing the risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with a health professional
- Preventive treatment for certain STIs can be most effective within 1-3 days of the sexual contact
- Find more information about post-exposure prophylaxis (preventative treatment for HIV) such as where to find it and how to pay for it
- Forensic exam to collect potential physical evidence and determine additional necessary treatment (also called a sexual assault forensic exam, or ‘rape kit’)
- A forensic exam may be conducted up to 5 days after the incident
- To preserve evidence one should not shower, bathe, brush teeth, or change clothes before visiting a hospital for a forensic exam
- Learn more about the Forensic Exam
- Discussing the risks of pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault and/or contraception methods and alternatives with a health professional
You can have a support person or people of your choice such as a friend, family member, or advocate accompany you throughout the medical care process.Back to top