Why should I go to the Emergency Department or to Campus Health? How can they help?
After a physical or sexual assault, some medical concerns may not be immediately apparent, such as internal injuries, STIs, or pregnancy. Consider obtaining an exam to protect yourself; emergency contraception can help prevent pregnancy and antibiotics can help with any infections. People of all gender identities and gender expressions can go directly to Women’s Health on the third floor of Campus Health for specialized response by a forensic nurse examiner (FNE) to a physical or sexual assault.
If you are concerned about seeking medical attention because of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, or that of the person who hurt you, you can contact the LGBTQ Center or the Office of the Dean of Students and request someone to accompany you.
The Emergency Department at UNC Hospitals provides the same quality and type of care at Campus Health; however, during business hours, you will generally be seen more quickly at Campus Health.
At the hospital or Campus Health, you may also want to have an evidence collection kit completed. See the next question below for more information.
What’s the evidence kit collection like? Why should I have evidence collected?
A Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE), at either UNC Hospitals or Campus Health Services can collect evidence from your body in the event of interpersonal violence. Most people call evidence collection a “rape kit” but evidence collection can also be used in circumstances of physical assault. The evidence collection process by a FNE can take 4 to 6 hours, and involves a physical exam, treating of minor injuries, supporting your psychological needs, and physical and photographic evidence collection. If you suspect that you have been drugged, the Forensic Nurse Examiner may run tests for alcohol or drugs. The nurse will also collect samples of clothing fibers, hairs, saliva, semen or body fluid, and take photos of injuries as documentation of the assault. In order to preserve evidence that can be used against the offender, try not to eat, urinate, shower, change clothes, or brush your hair. If you do change clothes and plan to bring clothes with you as evidence, place them in a paper bag (not plastic) to preserve the evidence best. Appropriate medical care including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy is provided.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, has a detailed description of an evidence kit on their website. Even if you have choose to have evidence collected, it does not mean you are required to press charges or go to court. You have the choice to think about it, and an evidence collection kit gives you the option later. The most important thing to remember about the evidence collection process that is entirely up to you, the survivor, how much evidence you want collected. The process can be difficult and invasive after an already-traumatic incident.
Evidence collection can help you understanding more about the assault, particularly if you were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of the assault. If you know you want to press charges against the person who assaulted you, it is strongly encouraged that you have evidence collected by medical personnel in order to gather and preserve physical evidence following a sexual assault or physical assault. Because there is a limited time window in which to collect evidence (generally 72 hours or as soon as possible after the assault), some individuals will choose to collect evidence even if they do not want to press charges at that time, but could be interested in pressing charges at a later date.
What if I can’t afford to get treatment or don’t want my assault-related medical treatment reported to my parents’ health insurance?
You can receive help from from the Victim’s Assistance Fund or the Student Emergency Fund to cover all of the costs of treatment except for HIV prophylaxis.