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Seeking Medical Attention

Bringing a Support Person

Going to the hospital after a sexual assault can be overwhelming and intimidating, and it may be helpful for you to bring a support person with you.

If you don't feel comfortable bringing someone with you, you can contact a sexual assault support agency, a Victim Services program, or a help line to get support and options. In some locations, someone from these agencies may even be able to accompany you to the hospital.

Medical Care

You may want to seek medical support after being sexually assaulted for any injuries you may have sustained and so that health professionals can gather evidence through a forensic exam. Evidence gathered this way can be used to prosecute the person who hurt you.

If you go to the hospital and tell the medical professionals what happened, you can expect them to assess your injuries and to offer emergency contraceptives and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

Even if you were not physically injured, it is wise to seek medical attention to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and possibly pregnancy. You can also visit your local pharmacy to ask for emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy.

Forensic Exams

A forensic exam is a medical exam where medical professionals gather evidence from your body that can help police in their investigation. Every exam could be a bit different depending on the circumstances. The exam may or may not include:

  • gathering physical evidence from your body;
  • blood and urine samples; and
  • documenting any injuries.

The exam will provide immediate and follow up care. If you have detailed questions on forensic exams, please contact the Health Line 811.

If you are considering reporting to police, it is helpful to go to the hospital immediately after the assault and not to shower or change your clothes. It is natural for survivors to want to immediately clean themselves and 'wash away' contact with the perpetrator, but – if you can – it's best to wait until after the forensic exam to:

  • shower, bathe, or perform any other personal hygiene;
  • brush your teeth;
  • drink anything; or
  • change your clothes.

If possible, try to avoid using the washroom until after your exam.

You may be unaware of small injuries that might have occurred during the assault. A doctor or specially trained nurse can identify them and record them in your medical record. These injuries tend to heal very quickly, often within 24 hours, so it is important to seek medical care as soon as possible after the assault.

Forensic exams should be done as soon as you are able but can be done up to seven days after the assault. If you believe you were drugged, it's important to attend the hospital within 72 hours so the drugs can still be detected.

Police and Forensic Exams

In some communities if you complete a forensic exam, the police will contact you to obtain a statement from you as part of the exam. If you don't wish to contact the police, you may still attend the hospital for immediate care. You may wish to ask the medical professional assisting you about how forensic exams work in your community before the exam takes place. If you are a minor, the medical professional is obligated to report what happened to you to the police.

In some communities, you may have the option to have your results from a forensic exam stored while you decide whether to report your assault to the police.

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