Evidentiary Exams with a SAFE Nurse
Beyond simply receiving medical care, you may also decide to have an evidentiary exam, in which a specially trained nurse will examine you and document any physical evidence of a sexual assault. Should you decide now or in the future to report to law enforcement or press charges, having evidence on file can help your case. Your exam will be paid for by either Rice County or Carleton.
Evidentiary exams are ideally performed immediately following an assault, but evidence may still be collected up to 120 hours—five days—after the assault. They are performed by specially trained Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners, also called SAFE Nurses. SAFE Nurses are all female, and are on-call 24 hours a day.
You may call Northfield Hospital Emergency Department (507-646-1100) to let them know that you are on your way and would like to see a SAFE Nurse. When you arrive at the hospital, inform the receptionist, who will call the SAFE nurse on-call. She will come immediately to the hospital. You may have to wait about 30 or 45 minutes for her to arrive, so it can be nice to have a book, a friend, or another support person to keep you company.
Tips for visiting Northfield Hospital:
- If you request a SAFE Nurse, the charges for your exam will be billed to Rice County - you will not have to pay for anything yourself, and you will not be required to inform your parents.
- If you do not want to request a SAFE Nurse, or if you receive any services outside of the evidentiary exam, you will be billed for your visit. If you give the Hospital your insurance information, in most cases the bill will eventually be sent to your parents. If you do not want your parents to know about your experience, DO NOT give the hospital your insurance information. If you are sent a bill from the Hospital, contact Marit Lysne (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Director of Student Health and Counseling.
SAFE nurses recommend that you:
- wait until the exam to change out of the clothes you were wearing during the assault (or bring any clothing or bed sheets that may have organic evidence from the assault in separate paper bags, which protect the evidence better than non-porous plastic bags).
- bring a change of clothes because you may be asked to leave the clothes worn during the assault. The hospital can also provide you with clothing.
- try not to eat, drink, douche, wash your hands, comb your hair, or brush your teeth prior to the exam if these areas may have organic evidence from the assault.
During the exam,
- remember that you are in control. You may stop the exam at any point, ask questions at any time, and opt out of any part of the exam.
- you may bring a friend or support person with you, but at certain points during the exam they may be asked to leave the room.
- the SAFE Nurse will ask you for a detailed account of the assault, then will perform a physical exam using a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit. This exam may include: a urine sample, a vaginal swab using a speculum, a penile swab, pubic hair combing, an oral swab, a rectal swab, swabs of other areas that may have organic evidence, and a finger prick to draw blood for a DNA sample and testing for date rape drugs.
- Following the exam you will discuss any risks you may have been exposed to during the assault, and will be offered treatment for STIs and pregnancy prevention.
Getting an evidentiary exam does not mean that you are required to report the sexual assault to Carleton or to the Police. The evidence collected in the exam is sealed and given directly to the Police Department, but remains completely confidential unless you decide to share it. It will be stored on your behalf for up to one year.