After an assault you may be numbed by the emotional stress of the event and feel fine physically; however, it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you are able. An advocate is specifically trained to support and provide you with your rights and treatment options, including the ways to handle transportation and the cost of your treatment. Consider reaching out to the Talley Center, RCASA or Empowerhouse as you seek treatment. You can also request hospital staff or Student Health Center Staff to contact an advocate on your behalf.
Medical professionals will complete a medical exam to address your physical health. In cases of sexual assault and physical violence, a forensic medical exam may be completed to collect and preserve forensic evidence.
It is important to receive medical care in order to:
- Be examined and treated for any injuries; some injuries such as strangulation or head trauma may not initially show symptoms but can later develop into a hazardous condition
- Be tested and treated for possible exposure to sexually transmitted diseases
- Discuss ways to reduce the risk of pregnancy, if applicable
- Collect medical evidence if you decide to report the assault to the police.
I want to get medical attention on campus…
The Student Health Center located in Lee Hall Rm 112, is a weekday health clinic that focuses on routine and acute healthcare needs of the UMW students. On site specialty care includes sexual health services and mental health consultations among others. This includes initial diagnosis and treatment of acute illnesses and/or injuries with appropriate follow-up for most short-term illnesses. Our providers include a physician, a nurse practitioner and nurses. In the event it is a medical emergency or you require specialized medical care, the SHC staff will assist you in making that process as smooth as possible. The Student Health Center cannot perform a sexual assault medical examination.
Concerned about cost?
Many services at the Student Health Center are low-cost or free of charge. Fees at the Student Health Center are either charged to your student account or EagleOne card; if your parent or guardian monitors these accounts, they may see a charge from the SHC on your bill. Please speak to the nurse or doctor about your concerns.
Student Health Center Costs
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing: One free test per year; $10 for additional tests
- Birth control: Appx. $8 per pack
- Emergency contraception: Appx. $12
- Pregnancy testing: $5
- Complete women’s health exam (PAP): $15
*subject to change – please check with the Student Health Center for the most accurate prices
Make an appointment?
You can make an appointment with the Student Health Center by calling (540)654-1040. The SHC is open from 8am-5pm. Remember, visits to the Health Center are confidential. Sharing any relevant information will help the staff treat you.
What can you expect?
When you arrive at the Student Health Center for your appointment, you will check in at the front desk and will be asked to wait in the waiting room. A nurse will call you back to take your vitals, ask why you are there, and may ask for additional information in order to perform the appropriate tests or refer the best service. Remember that Health Center staff are confidential. Sharing whatever information you are comfortable sharing may help the staff treat you.
I would rather get medical attention off campus…
Do you need transportation and/or someone to go with you?
- RCASA’s Sexual Assault Hotline: 540-371-1666
- Empowerhouse’s Domestic Violence Hotline: 540-373-9373.
If you decide to disclose to University Police, they can escort you to the hospital. If you visit the Student Health Center first and mention that you would like a forensic exam, they may be able to assist you with securing transportation.
Fredericksburg Campus: 1001 Sam Perry Blvd, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 (Forensic Medical Exam Location)
Stafford Campus: 101 Hospital Center Blvd, Stafford VA 22554
Spotsylvania stand-alone ER: 10401 Spotsylvania Ave., Suite 103, Fredericksburg, VA 22308
Spotsylvania Regional Hospital: 4600 Spotsylvania Pkwy, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Are you worried about the cost?
There are resources and programs available to help cover different medical costs. While sexual assault exams are always covered by the Commonwealth of Virginia, there may be different coverage for domestic violence-related exams. Empowerhouse and RCASA may also be able to help. Contact the hotline 24 hours a day to talk to an advocate.
In addition, FAHASS (Fredericksburg Area HIV/AIDS Support Services)(540)-907-4555 provides free and confidential STI testing.
If you are considering a Forensic Medical Exam
(sometimes called a PERK/SANE exam)…
- It is important that this be done sooner rather than later, to preserve evidence and ensure you receive prompt medical care.
- Do not bathe, wash, or douche. Try not to urinate if possible.
- If oral contact took place, do not smoke, eat, or brush your teeth.
- Go to the Mary Washington emergency room. Medical attention is important – you may have injuries of which you are unaware. The hospital can also test you for sexually transmitted infections and provide emergency contraception if desired.
- If you’re already changed clothes, place them in a paper bag (not plastic). If you haven’t changed, keep the original clothes on, and bring an extra set to wear home from the hospital. The clothes you are wearing could be used as evidence.
What is a forensic medical examination?
A comprehensive medical exam performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) in instances of sexual assault. A Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) provides personalized comprehensive care to patients who have experienced interpersonal violence, such as domestic violence, and strangulation. If possible, have the exam completed within 120 hours (5 days) of the assault.
Where do I get a forensic medical exam?
It is important that you receive treatment at a facility where the staff is trained to provide care for sexual assault and intimate partner survivors and know the correct methods for evidence collection. Currently, SANE and FNE nurses are available through the Mary Washington Hospital Emergency Room:540-741-1000 or 911 (police emergencies).
Private physicians are typically not trained to perform forensic medical exams; however, they can counsel you on your options and refer you to the closest hospital or clinic where you can receive the exam. A primary care physician can assist you with physical injuries, as well as pregnancy and STI testing. If you are still on your parents’ insurance, they will receive the bill for this exam, which may include details about the services you received such as pregnancy testing and STI exams.
Will a forensic exam take a long time?
Exams can last several hours, but the important thing to remember is you have choices throughout the process. You can ask questions at any point and can change your mind if you decide to. If a support person (either a friend, family member, or advocate through Talley Center, Empowerhouse or RCASA) would be helpful, they can be with you throughout the process. If you’re not sure whether you want to report or not, you can talk with the forensic nurse about your evidence being held without being reported. If you decide to go to your family physician or primary care provider, consider telling them what generally happened, as they can often best treat you when they know what they’re looking for. Some physical examinations may be triggering or upsetting for survivors of sex or gender-based violence; you may consider discussing this with a medical or mental health professional prior to your exam or appointment.
What does the forensic medical exam cost?
The Commonwealth of Virginia will pay for the cost of the sexual assault forensic medical exam and the evidence can be stored for up to five years. However, health professionals are required to obtain authorization from law enforcement to perform forensic medical examinations for victims of physical assault.
What happens with the forensic medical exam after the evidence is collected?
If you are under the age of 18, your nurse or doctor will be required to report the incidence to the Department of Social Services. Having a forensic sexual assault medical exam completed does not mean you have to make the decision to file a criminal report or complaint with UMW. You can do a BLIND sexual assault forensic exam, which means that the evidence aka Physical Exam Recovery Kit (PERK) is kept anonymous. Domestic violence or physical assault cases do not have the options of keeping the evidence anonymous. Domestic violence victims must cooperate with criminal proceedings in order to have a forensic medical exam conducted.
If you choose to report your sexual assault to law enforcement, the police will take custody of the PERK from the SANE at the hospital and it will be sent to the Department of Forensic Science within 60 days. You have the right to be notified of the status and results of your PERK analysis. If you choose not to report the crime, your PERK kit will be stored for a minimum of two years. You can request for the PERK to be tested at any time.
Preserving evidence, including from a forensic exam performed by a SANE nurse, does not obligate the sexual assault survivor to pursue criminal charges or to appear in court.