You may want to have a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit (SAEK) done. A SAEK is used by health care professionals to collect forensic evidence after a sexual assault. Not every hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador has a SAEK on site. However, a hospital should be able to obtain one from the nearest RCMP or RNC detachment.
If there is something you are unsure of or not comfortable with, you have the right to ask questions, take a break, or say no. The health care professional should explain every step along the way, pause or take a break when you need it, and answer any questions you may have. You may choose to have some parts of the exam completed but not others. You are in charge of which parts of the exam you consent to.
Forensic evidence collection may include different approaches to look for injury or collect specimens that could be used for evidence. How evidence is collected may also depend on what equipment is available at the hospital, and what level of training the health care professional has received.
Evidence collection may include collecting the clothes you were wearing during the assault, collecting debris and foreign material, taking photographs, swabs, blood and urine samples, etc. You may want to bring a change of clothes with you, in case the clothes you are wearing are collected for evidence.
The health care professional may ask if you are comfortable with the following exams: physical, pelvic, genital, or anal. You may choose to have one, some or none of these exams performed. If available, the health care professional may use a special light called an Alternate Light Source (ALS) that can look for bodily fluids or bruising.
Evidence is best collected within five days of an assault. You may be provided with medications to prevent pregnancy and common sexually transmitted infections (e.g., gonorrhea and chlamydia).
For evidence collection, it is recommended that you do not do any of the following:
- Shower or bathe
- Change or throw away your clothes
- Eat or drink
- Brush your teeth
- Wash your hands
- Comb your hair
- Disturb the scene of the assault
However, it is ok if you have done any of these things – you didn’t do anything wrong. Many survivors often want to shower, change, and brush their teeth after an assault has occurred and it does not mean that an examination and evidence collection cannot take place.