Immediate Crisis: Seeking Medical Attention, Emotional Support, and Legal Assistance
If you have been the victim of rape or sexual assault, you may be experiencing a variety of strong emotions, and/or a number of physical problems. You may be feeling confused and alone, wondering if or how you should tell family or friends. Whatever your feelings, there are a number of support services available to help you. This page outlines local, state, and national resources for victims of sexual assault.
In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, it is imperative to get to a safe place and to seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine the presence of physical injury, sexually transmitted diseases, or pregnancy (if you are a woman who has been raped). The sooner you seek medical attention after an assault, the greater your options will be for medical care. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) provides detailed information about the different kinds of emergency contraception and how to obtain them.
Within the first 96 hours after a sexual assault, there are two options for seeking medical attention: a forensic medical exam and a non-forensic medical exam. The University Health Services Sexual Assault Victim Care Options document explains the difference between the two kinds of medical exams and will help you make an informed decision about medical care. Non-forensic medical care and evaluation are available at University Health Services. The forensic evidence collection exam is available to Penn State University Park students at the Mount Nittany Medical Center Emergency Department. To preserve forensic evidence, do not shower, douche, or change clothes before seeking medical attention. Additional information on preserving forensic evidence is located here.
According to the Center for Women Students, “Having the examination for the collection of evidence does not automatically mean that you are agreeing to a criminal investigation. However, should you decide you want to pursue that option later, any evidence collected would then be available to help support the investigation. While most victims of sexual assault are women, some victims are men. It is important for men to know that male victims at Penn State are offered the same support services as women. Health care for University Park students is provided through the Mount Nittany Hospital Emergency Room and the University Health Services. Male victims of sexual assault are eligible for the special exam at the Mount Nittany Medical Center, with follow-up or later care provided at University Health Services in the Student Health Center on campus. If you say that you have been a victim of sexual assault, you will receive priority over routine patients.”[i]
- Medical care can be sought at local community hospital emergency departments without charge as mandated by the Federal "End Violence Against Women Act.” While victims are not required to speak with police, a police report will likely be made. This can be done anonymously as a Jane or John Doe report.
- Penn State will pay for transportation via taxi or ambulance to the emergency department.
- For Penn State students, costs for an initial diagnostic evaluation of sexual assault (as defined by current CDC guidelines) will be covered either through the Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Program (when the evaluation takes place at a community emergency room) or Penn State, (if a police report is not filed per victim request) or when care is provided at a campus health service location.
- Penn State will waive costs for one related follow-up evaluation at a campus health service location.
- If a student withdraws following a sexual assault, the fees for a follow-up visit during the same semester can be waived if provided at a campus health service location.
- If a non-student who is visiting campus is sexually assaulted on campus, costs are waived for the initial diagnostic evaluation for sexual assault and one follow-up visit when provided at a campus health service location.
- The scope of services available varies by campus location. Call your campus health service for specific information.
Penn State Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Hotline:
800-550-7575 (TTY 866-714-7177)
- 24-hour hotline run by Penn State for victims and observers of sexual assault and relationship violence.
[i] Center for Women Students, Medical Resources, <http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/womenscenter/resources/medical.shtml>.