What can I expect if I go to the emergency room after a sexual assault?
You have the right to respectful, confidential medical care from health care providers at all hospitals. In addition, some hospitals have specially trained nurses that provide examinations after a rape. They are called Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
What are Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE)?
Some hospitals have specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, sometimes called SANE nurses, on staff. SANE nurses provide sexual assault examinations 24 hours a day at no cost. These examinations are done to collect any evidence that may lead to the arrest and prosecution of the person who sexually assaulted you, and to provide you with any medical care you may need. You can find a list of hospitals or clinics with SANE nurses here, or call RAINN’s confidential 24-hour hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
What will SANE nurses do for me?
SANE nurses can provide you with medications to help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, and emergency contraception to help prevent pregnancy. You should also know that emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy works up to 120 hours after a sexual assault, and you can get that medication at all Washington State hospitals, from most school health centers, at many pharmacies, or from your doctor if you have one. If you have been sexually assaulted and you are concerned about preventing pregnancy, you should try to get emergency contraception as soon as you can after the assault because it works better the sooner you take it.
What if the hospital I went to doesn’t have a SANE nurse?
Sometimes hospitals offer to transfer a patient who has been sexually assaulted to a different hospital with a SANE nurse, if they can be safely transferred. You have the right to agree to that transfer or not.
What if I waited a while to go to the hospital? Can I still get help?
Yes. If you think you need medical attention, and more than 96 hours has passed since the assault, you still have the right to get medical care, including emergency contraception and medications to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
Do I have to report the assault to the police if I go to the hospital?
You do not have to decide right away whether you want to report the sexual assault to the police. The evidence obtained in the SANE exam will be stored for a period of time, so if you decide you want to report the assault to the police later, that evidence may still be available.
Do I have to pay for my medical care and the rape exam?
The SANE exams are paid for by the Washington State Crime Victims’ Compensation Program. You will not be charged for the exam.
Wondering about who has to keep your information confidential?
Visit the Confidentially Tell Someone section of this website. Free confidential support and advocacy services are also available; visit our Resources page for a list of agencies and nonprofit organizations in your community.