The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape is working to eliminate all forms of sexual violence and to advocate for the rights and needs of victims of sexual assault.

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Healthcare and Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can have both immediate and long-term health effects. Immediate concerns often involve fear of pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections. However, many people do not realize the long-term effects sexual assault can have on one’s physical and mental health. Sexual assault and incest can be the root of many, serious health problems. Sexual assault is truly a public health concern for our society.

Immediate Medical Concerns for Victims of Rape, Sexual Assault and Incest

The importance of medical care…
Why seek medical care?

Seeking medical care within 72 – 120* hours at an emergency department is your choice, but is highly recommended for several reasons:

  • To make sure you are physically ok
  • To prevent pregnancy if you wish
  • To prevent potential sexually transmitted infections
  • To screen for and possibly prevent HIV
  • To collect evidence

To connect to your local rape crisis center and other helpful services

*find out the time frame for conducting exams in your area by calling your local rape crisis center or hospital. Most hospitals conduct exams within 72 hours, but many are expanding this time frame.

What happens at the hospital?

Your experience at the hospital may vary a bit depending upon where you live, but a specially trained nurse called a sexual assault forensic examiner, SAFE, or sexual assault nurse examiner, SANE, may examine you, or it may be a nurse and physician. Learn more about SAFE/SANE.

A sexual assault forensic exam kit will be used to collect evidence from your body. The kit contains envelopes, swabs and slides. Your DNA will be collected as well, using a specific swabbing tool in your mouth.

It is your right to be accompanied at the hospital by a counselor/advocate from the local rape crisis center. The counselor/advocate can be with you during the exam and also talk to you privately about what you have experienced. You may speak confidentially to a counselor advocate. If the hospital staff has not offered to call the counselor/advocate, ask them to make the call.

After the exam you will receive medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections and you should be consulted about preventing HIV exposure. You should also be told about emergency contraception (EC) which is a medication to prevent pregnancy from the sexual assault. If you want EC, it should be given to you at the hospital or you should be told how to access it.


Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape * 125 N. Enola Dr. * Enola, PA 17025 * (717) 728-9740 * (800) 692-7445 * TTY (877) 585-1091

24-hour Information and Referral: 1-888-772-PCAR

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