Going to the emergency room after a sexual assault can be a scary and confusing experience. Your safety and health are of utmost concern. It is important for you to understand your options and have the support you need to make informed decisions.
When you arrive at the Sentara RMH Medical Center Emergency Room, you will need to check in at the triage desk to be registered. At this time, a Collins Center advocate will be called as well as a specialized nurse called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). The Collins Center advocate will be asking you some necessary questions in order to coordinate the appropriate medical and legal response.
When considering making a report to law enforcement…
Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) Exams
A PERK is a special medical exam given to people who have been sexually assaulted to collect evidence that may be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual assault. A specialized nurse called a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will conduct this exam. After a PERK, the nurse may refer you to an emergency room physician if you have injuries that need medical attention.
If you think you may want to report the assault to the police, the sooner you have evidence collected, the better.
A PERK exam may not be effective if more than 72 hours have passed since the assault. (For cases involving children, this time frame may be different). Sexually Transmitted Infection and Pregnancy Prophylaxis are routinely offered with the PERK exam. STI Prophylaxis is a high dose of antibiotic that will decrease your chance of getting an STI. Pregnancy prophylaxis is a high dose of birth control pills that can help prevent pregnancy if taken within 72 hours. The cost of PERK exams and medications are paid for by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
If you do not want to make a report to law enforcement…
You may choose to see an emergency room physician for your injuries and request medications including STI Prophylaxis and Pregnancy Prophylaxis. There are other options for obtaining medications only – through the health department, your gynecologist, or university health center. For more information about accessing STI and Pregnancy Prophylaxis, ask the Collins Center advocate or SANE.
If you have decided that you do not want to make a report to law enforcement now or in the future, then having evidence collected by having a PERK exam may not be the right choice for you. A PERK exam may be done without reporting to law enforcement, but in these situations, there is the potential that other evidence may be lost (including evidence from the suspect(s), the crime scene(s), and/or from you.) The sooner you report the assault to law enforcement, the better the chance for a successful prosecution of the offender. The Collins Center advocate can help you think through the choice to have a PERK exam.