We encourage all survivors of power-based violence to seek medical attention. Medical attention can include treatment for injuries, STD/STI/HIV prevention and treatments, emergency contraception, crisis intervention, emotional support services, and sexual assault forensic exams. It is your decision to seek the medical treatments you are comfortable receiving.
A sexual assault forensic exam (SANE exam) is used to collect evidence that police may use to make an arrest, and that prosecutors may used to seek a conviction. The exam is free and will not be billed to your health insurance. All costs are directly billed to the Massachusetts Attorney General's Victim Compensation and Assistance Division (VCAD). Read more about VCAD.
You can complete a SANE exam without filing a police report. All kits in Massachusetts are saved and tracked so that survivors can take time to decide whether or not they wish to file a report. At the time of the exam, the medical professional facilitating the exam will complete a Provider Sexual Crime Report, which is shared with local law enforcement and sent to the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Read more about kit storage and tracking.
You do not need to complete a SANE exam to receive medical attention. Survivors in need of injury treatment, STD/STI/HIV prevention treatments, and emergency contraception can receive those services in the emergency department. If you have reported the assault to law enforcement, VCAD will cover the cost of medical services.
If you do not wish to report the assault to law enforcement, but still wish to receive medical attention, your health insurance will be billed. Note that the Patch Act protects your confidential health care information. Under this Act, your insurance’s explanation of benefits (EOB) can be sent directly to you, the patient, instead of the insurance subscriber. You might consider this option if you are concerned about confidentiality. Read more about confidentiality.
If your assault occurred within the last 5 days, our on-campus Health Services Office encourages you to visit one of the resources listed below, which are equipped with the services you need. Our health staff are here to help should you need follow-up care.
Try to seek medical care within the first 72 hours—although examinations may be done up to 5 days after an assault. If you wish to receive a SANE exam, remember to preserve evidence, if possible, and bring it with you to the emergency department. Do not shower, bathe, douche, brush your teeth, wash, or throw away items that might contain evidence of the assault.
- Physical evidence for medical and legal services can also be collected at the hospital. Save articles of clothing, bedding, etc., in separate paper bags and bring them to the hospital or give them to the police. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can damage evidence. Items of evidence surrendered to law enforcement are unlikely to be returned to you.
- A toxicology kit can be completed that may be able to detect drugs that alter consciousness. If you believe you were drugged and toxicology evidence collected, you must go to the emergency department within 5 days of the assault. The cost of the toxicology kit is covered by VCAD.
- A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) can conduct a forensic exam. SANE nurses are located at the following sites in the area:
During the forensic exam a medical advocate from the Women's Center in New Bedford can be available to support you. Advocates from The Women's Center are automatically dispatched to the emergency department and respond within one hour. You do not need to coordinate this service before arriving at the hospital and may turn down medical advocacy at any time.
Counseling services are available to you no matter how much time has passed after your assault. Please contact the UMass Dartmouth Victim's Advocate for campus and community resources. If you are in crisis, you may contact The Women's Center's 24-hour hotline at any time:
The Women's Center
24-Hour Hotline: 508.999.6636 (508.99WOMEN)
405 County Street
New Bedford, MA 02740