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Following an experience of sexual or domestic violence, you may wish to seek out a medical forensic exam in order to collect evidence and receive follow-up care. Sometimes you may hear this exam referred to as a “rape kit,” but on this website you will see the exam referred to as a “medical forensic exam” and “evidence collection kit.” This is because rape is only one form of interpersonal violence which may cause someone to seek evidence collection, and it is important to be inclusive of other forms of violence such as physical assaults from domestic violence and strangulation. RAINN provides helpful information on the medical forensic exam.
Every state, and even sometimes individual counties, have a different process for when and where medical forensic exams are offered. In the state of Arizona, each county has a different process for where the exams are offered. In Maricopa County, the HonorHealth Forensic Nursing Program holds a contract with the County Attorney’s office to offer free, trauma-informed medical exams within five days of the assault conducted by specially trained nurses, regardless of whether or not the assault is reported to the police. The exams take place at Family Advocacy Centers (FACs) in order to ensure the safety of the victim or survivor. If outside Maricopa County, view the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence (ACESDV) Arizona Medical Forensic Exams Facilities list to review medical forensic exam facilities in Arizona. If outside of Arizona but within the United States, RAINN has a search tool to help you identify sexual assault service providers in your state. ASU Health Services does not offer medical forensic exams.
During a medical forensic, the following might take place:
In 2013, the Violence Against Women Authorization declared that states must provide medical forensic exams to sexual assault victims free of cost; though there could be a cost associated with follow-up care. The reauthorization also declared that states still need to provide medical forensic exams free of cost even if the victim or survivor chooses not to report the crime to law enforcement. However, all states have a different time frame as to when they will collect evidence following an assault. In Arizona, exams must be conducted within five days of the crime in order to collect evidence.
Regardless of whether or not a victim or survivor chooses to have a medical forensic exam, they should seek follow-up medical care around two weeks following the assault to test for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy (if the person has a uterus and is child-bearing).
ASU Health Services clinicians can provide follow-up care after an assault. You can schedule your appointment through the ASU Health Services Patient Portal or you can walk into the clinic. ASU Health Services does not offer medical forensic exams. It is your choice as to whether or not you disclose your experience to your clinician. If you do decide to disclose, ASU Health Services is a confidential resource and will not share your experience unless there is an immediate threat to yourself or the community.
You may or may not wish to reveal your sexual assault to your primary care physician. There are many local health clinics that can test for unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections free of charge. RAINN provides a helpful overview of how to find medical attention following an assault.
Victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence can face long-term physical or mental health concerns, which can result in missed time at work or school, additional expenses (for healthcare, time off work, mental health counseling), or difficulty resuming their habits, lifestyles and sexual or intimate relationships. Ongoing physical and mental health care can help improve an individual’s overall physical and psychological recovery.