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What happens during the medical exam?

Even if you have no apparent injuries after the assault, it is still a good idea to seek medical care. Going to the hospital, even though it might be difficult, is an important way for you to start taking care of yourself. You may come to Health Services or you may go to any hospital you choose. If you need to be transferred from Health Services to another emergency care site, EMS can transport you.

At the hospital, you will be asked questions about your general health. If you are female, you will be asked about your menstrual history and your use of contraception. You will also be asked specific questions about the assault. It may be difficult to recall some of the details, and it may be emotionally painful to talk about what happened. Medical providers ask specific questions to find out what to look for when they examine you. The information you give helps them conduct a thorough physical evaluation.

Then you will have a general physical exam and if you are female, a pelvic exam. The clinician will check for external and internal injuries and test for any sexually transmitted infections. You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection. For females, a pregnancy test will be done and you will be given emergency contraceptive pills to prevent unintended pregnancy.

The medical providers will, with your permission, collect physical evidence to be used if you decide to prosecute. Collecting this physical evidence is called a “rape kit.” This cannot be done at Health Services, but must be done at an emergency room or hospital. Depending on the types of sexual contact that occurred, the search for physical evidence may include taking samples from the vagina, mouth, or rectum to test for sperm cells and semen. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, and the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault.

All exam findings are completely confidential and can only be released with your written consent. If you have visible injuries, you may be asked to have photographs taken. Photographing injuries is important because by the time your assailant is prosecuted, the injuries may have healed.

Going to the hospital does not mean that you have to make a report to the police. That is your choice. The hospital staff will probably ask you to come back for a follow-up checkup. Or, you follow up with a medical provider of your choice. A counselor will be available to talk with you. Additional ongoing counseling will be available to you through the support resources of your choice.

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