Medical Care for Sexual Assault Survivors
Sexual assault survivors who go to Silverton Hospital’s or Salem Hospital's emergency room for care are treated by professionals specially trained to work with sexual assault survivors.
A nurse who is specially trained to conduct sexual assault exams is on duty or on call around the clock to ensure survivors receive appropriate treatment as quickly as possible. The nurse may be a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) nurse or a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). One of the nurse's first concerns is for the patient's privacy. After the survivor checks in at the hospital emergency room, the nurse will move her as quickly as possible to a room with more privacy for the examination. The survivor's name is kept confidential from other staff in the emergency room. The nurse interviews the survivor about the assault, mainly for information that may be relevant to the survivor's medical condition.
Survivors are encouraged to seek medical attention even if they do not choose to report the sexual assault to law enforcement. If the assault is not being reported to law enforcement the nurse can still conduct a partial medical assessment to ensure the physical well being of the survivor and provide medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, as well as offer emergency contraception.
If a survivor chooses to report the sexual assault to law enforcement the nurse may conduct a complete sexual assault exam and ensure that any evidence that might be used in prosecuting the assailant is collected and preserved according to strict standards. The nurse may take numerous samples such as hair, saliva, fingernail clippings and scrapings, and swabs of any bites, abrasions, or other injuries and preserve them for possible use as evidence. The nurse also tests for the presence of sexually transmitted diseases. Each article of the survivor's clothing is removed, sealed in a separate package, and marked for evidence. A pelvic examination will be conducted and medications may be prescribed, including medications that can act as preventives for certain sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. On average, the whole process takes about three hours to complete. If a survivior is unsure about whether to report the sexual assault to law enforcement, she can still choose to have the complete sexual assault exam done. Any evidence collected can be stored for a period of time in case the survivor decides to report to law enforcement in the future.
In Marion County, an additional part of this process includes response by a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate from the District Attorney’s Office. This advocate will respond to the hospital and accompany the survivor through the interview by law enforcement, and if the survivor wants, through the sexual assault exam. The advocate is there to listen to the survivor, validate her feelings and provide support and community resourcesas she goes through this process. The advocate may also provide clothing to the survivor to wear home from the hospital if her clothing was taken for evidence. The advocate will follow up with the survivor within a few days to provide additional support and answer questions about the next steps in the legal process.
Currently the Sexual Assault Victims’ Emergency Medical Response fund pays the cost of both the partial medical exam and the complete medical exam and the related preventive treatment. Survivors are not required to access their insurance to pay for these exams if they do not wish, however, they can if they choose. It is also NOT required that a survivor report the sexual assault to law enforcement in order to access the fund. The nurse will complete the necessary form for the survivor.This information provided by, or adapted from information provided by, Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service.