What to do if you have been sexually assaulted.
What has happened to you is not your fault and you are not alone.
If you have been sexually assaulted or experienced intentional relationship violence within the past seven days, go to your nearest hospital emergency as soon as possible, here our Forensic Nurse Examiners will be able to help you.
Our nurses are compassionate and knowledgeable and trained to give care to those in your situation. With our nurses, you can make informed decisions about your health and situation in a safe and comforting space. Our services are strictly confidential. You will be heard and you will be cared for.
FORENSIC NURSE EXAMINERS CAN SEE SURVIVORS UP TO SEVEN DAYS AFTER A SEXUAL ASSAULT OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, AND CAN PROVIDE THE CHOICE OF THREE CARE OPTIONS:
- Medical care. SAFE is not performed and no police report is filed.
- Medical care and SAFE; this includes the documentation of physical injuries and forensic sample collection. The forensic samples are stored for one year so survivors have time to decide what they would like to do. No report to RCMP/Police by an FNE.
- Medical care and SAFE, where forensic samples are provided to RCMP immediately, with the survivors consent.
With your consent, we can also:
- perform forensic exams with collection of forensic samples for evidence
- liaise with legal system - we will contact the police and parents ONLY if you want us to
- provide medication as needed, emergency contraception, and immunization
- provide referrals for follow-up care within your community.
Where to find us:
Forensic Nursing Services are offered through the Emergency Departments across the Island. This is a free service.
- Campbell River General Hospital
- Cowichan District Hospital
- Lady Minto Hospital
- Nanaimo Regional General Hospital
- Port Hardy Hospital
- Tofino General Hospital
- Victoria General Hospital
- Victoria Sexual Assault Centre
- West Coast General Hospital
- Oceanside Health Centra
- Comox Valley Hospital
If you are able, please try to do the following before coming to the hospital:
- try not to pee or poop
- do not eat or drink anything
- do not shower or take a bath
- do not douche or wash your genitals
- do not change your clothes
- do not brush your teeth, floss, chew gum, or brush your hair
Do not worry if you have done any or all of the above, it is still important to come to the hospital for care.
Sexual Assault and violence includes:
- unwanted sexual touching by anyone (partner, friend, stranger, etc)
- sexualized violence (vaginal, oral and or anal)
- physical violence (such as hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, etc) from someone you know such as a partner or friend or a stranger
- waking up and not knowing what has happened to you
What Happens at the Hospital
Your health care is always a priority for the Forensic Nurse Examiner. Everything that happens at the hospital is your choice. You can say “No” to any part of the following.
A Forensic Nurse Examiner will discuss and may offer you:
- a head to toe medical exam
- Emergency Contraception (“Plan B”, “morning after pill”) if you are at risk of pregnancy
- medications to help prevent Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
- immunizations for Hepatitis B or Tetanus
- medications to help prevent HIV
- other treatment or medications as needed
Depending on your condition, you might be seen by the emergency department doctor.
Reporting Sexual Assault or Relationship Violence to Police
Your care at the hospital is confidential and private. The police or your parents will only be contacted if you ask us to.
What does “Reporting to Police” mean?
Reporting to police does not mean that you will go to court or that charges will be laid. These things might happen but not always.
When you report to police they will start to investigate the incident. They will ask you questions to get as much information as possible about what happened.
The police will begin to collect samples which may be at the scene and/or from your visit to the hospital. Sample collection from your body is the job of the Forensic Nurse Examiner (if you choose). The police might talk to witnesses or other people who may have seen or heard what happened.
How soon do I need to report to police?
If you choose to report to police it is best to report as soon as possible, however, there is no time limit.
What if I don't feel safe?
Working with the police can give you some protection. The police and a support worker can also help you with a safety plan for you (and your family).
More information: Sexual assault, intentional violence and the law.