IMMEDIATELY AFTER AN ASSAULT:
If the assault has just occurred, the first and most important consideration is your safety. Get to a safe place where you can make arrangements for medical services as soon as possible. Do not wash your hands, shower, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, eat, smoke, or douche. If possible preserve each item of clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault separately in a paper bag. This can be important to preserving evidence should you choose future action.
A counselor is available 24/7 by contacting Counseling Services at 201-684-7522 during regular business hours. After hours please contact the Public Safety Department (201-684-6666) to contact an emergency on-call counselor.
If you are on campus and have been physically injured, call the Public Safety Department. By contacting the Public Safety Department, you are not obligated to file an incident report. At your request, only an anonymous crime report will be completed for statistical purposes.
IF THE ASSAULT TOOK PLACE WITHIN THE PAST 5 DAYS:
If the assault has taken place within the past five days students have two options for medical treatment: on-campus medical treatment and off-campus medical treatment. Campus counselors are available to provide emotional support regardless of which option a survivor selects.
On-campus Medical Treatment:
Health Services provides emergency contraception, testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s), pregnancy testing, and more. These services are provided free of charge for survivors of sexual assault. Health Services is located near the campus South Gate entrance at the corner of Route 202 and Hornbeam Road.
Please visit the Health Services website for hours, services, and contact information.
Off-campus Medical Treatment:
If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you can benefit from receiving a specialized medical examination. In addition to the examination, you will also be provided with information regarding your rights and options to ensure your physical and emotional well-being.The medical examination can also provide useful information and evidence if you decide to report the assault. Please use this information to empower yourself to make informed choices and decisions.
Free emergency transportation is available: please contact the Public Safety Department at (201) 684-6666 and request to speak with an Emergency on Call Counselor to request emergency transportation.
Call the free and confidential 24-hour hotline number for the healingSPACE: Sexual Violence Resource Center: (201) 487-2227 for information about the Bergen County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). SART is a free, coordinated community response to assist a survivor in the aftermath of a recent sexual assault. It has been designed to offer a compassionate, victim-centered approach while collecting evidence that can be vital to the investigation and prosecution of the crime. SART is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
There are three members of the SART team available to a survivor. A survivor has the option to speak with all three SART members, any combination of SART members, or speak with none of the SART members. SART members include:
Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE): A FNE is specially trained in forensic evidence collection. The FNE conducts a head to toe exam and collects evidence to assist in the prosecution of the crime. Medications to prevent Sexually Transmitted Infections and pregnancy resulting from the sexual assault are also offered to the survivor. The FNE does not treat injury; anyone needing medical attention will be seen by the attending physician in the local Emergency Department.
Law Enforcement: A local police officer and/or detective from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit are available at the request of the survivor to conduct an investigation. In most cases of sexual assault, the choice to prosecute is left up to the survivor.
Confidential Sexual Violence Advocate (CSVA): Trained healingSPACE advocates are available to assist the survivor throughout the SART process. Advocates keep information confidential and are there to empower the survivor by providing emotional support, information, and referrals. Follow-up with a trained advocate is also available in the days following the SART process.
Students wishing to use any or all of SART services may also still avail themselves of campus services such the Counseling Center.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE A SPECIALIZED MEDICAL EXAMINATION FOLLOWING A SEXUAL ASSAULT?
You should have a thorough medical examination immediately after a sexual assault, even if you have no apparent injuries. You may be in shock and have internal injuries. You may also have minor injuries, such as scratches or other marks on your skin. A Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) can give you a thorough physical examination and, if indicated, can provide treatment for injuries that are related to the sexual assault. The examiner can also document any injuries that you have so that if you decide to take any legal action, you will have a record of what happened to you.
Physical evidence can be identified and collected during a sexual assault medical examination. Even if you are undecided about whether you want to make a police report and unsure whether you want your assailant prosecuted, you should have evidence collected as soon as possible after a sexual assault. This is the best way to keep your options open for the future.
A sexual assault can place you at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). A health care provider can help you evaluate your risk of getting various STIs and advise you about ways to protect yourself from these risks. One of the benefits of obtaining medical care as soon as possible after a sexual assault is that immediate evaluation and medication can prevent some STIs.
If you are a female victim, the FNE can help you determine the likelihood that you could become pregnant as a result of the sexual assault and advise you about the alternatives available to you.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE EXAMINATION?
The Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) will usually begin by asking questions about your general health. If you are a female victim, you will be asked about your menstrual history and your use of contraception. You will also be asked specific questions about the assault. Although it may be difficult to recall some of the details and it may be emotionally painful to remember and talk about what happened, the answers you provide to these questions will help the doctor or nurse practitioner to conduct a thorough physical examination. This usually includes a pelvic examination but only with the survivor’s consent.
The FNE will look for injuries and other signs that force was used, such as tender areas, marks on your skin and bruises. If you have visible injuries, you may be asked to give consent to have photographs taken of the injured areas. Photographing injuries is important because if you choose to prosecute, by the time you go to court, the injuries may have healed.
In addition to checking you for other injuries, the medical team can look for other evidence of a sexual assault. Depending on the type(s) of sexual contact that occurred, the evidence may include taking samples from your vagina, mouth, and/or rectum to test for sperm cells and semen. Other evidence may be obtained from fingernail scrapings, foreign matter on your body, and the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault.
After the examination is complete, the FNE will document the findings in your medical record. This can be subpoenaed to assist in the legal process.
IF THE ASSAULT TOOK PLACE MORE THAN 5 DAYS AGO:
Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) and pregnancy is available from Health Services and other medical providers. After 5 days have passed, evidence that is able to be processed from a medical exam is unlikely to be collected.
Please see the “What are my resources for support?” section of this website for ongoing support including options for counseling, peer listening in the Women’s Center, and community resources.
FREQUENTLY ASKED MEDICAL QUESTIONS:
Q: Can I contract an STI as a result of a sexual assault?
A: The likelihood of contracting an sexually transmitted infection (STI) as a result of a sexual assault depends on various factors including the type of sexual contact that occurred, the number of assailants, and whether or not an assailant was infected with an STI at the time of the assault.
There are several STIs that can be contracted during sexual contact including Hepatitis B, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, genital warts, or vaginitis. There are immediate and effective treatment choices for some of these STIs.
A survivor may choose to reduce the risk of contracting certain STIs (Hepatitis B, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, or vaginitis) by taking medication immediately as a preventive measure. The survivor may also opt to wait to see if any disease(s) are contracted before taking medications.
Q: Am I at risk for getting HIV if I have been sexually assaulted?
A: The probability of contracting HIV through a single sexual contact is very low. He or she should consult with a physician or nurse regarding how to access risk factors and what do to deal in the unlikely event of contracting HIV as a result of a sexual assault.
For peace of mind and the protection of a survivors’ sexual partner(s), it is recommended that survivors be tested for HIV. The doctor or nurse will explain where and when to be tested and what precautions should be taken to protect the survivors’ sexual partner(s).
There are laws in some states that permit a criminal court judge to order a sexual assault suspect to be tested for HIV and other communicable diseases and to inform the victim of the test results. Speak to the police investigator or prosecutor for further information.
Q: What is the risk of pregnancy as a result of sexual assault?
A: A survivors’ risk of getting pregnant from a sexual assault depends on many factors including the survivor’s menstrual cycle, current use of contraceptives, fertility, the fertility of the assailant, and whether or not the assailant ejaculated are all factors involved. The physician or nurse can help the survivor evaluate personal risk for pregnancy.
If a survivor is at risk for becoming pregnant as a result of a sexual assault, a medical care provider can explain the various treatment options available. If a survivor chooses to have immediate treatment to prevent risk of a pregnancy, the options are most effective if care is sought within 72 hours after the assault. Immediate treatment options may prevent conception, however, they will not interrupt a pregnancy once it has begun.
A survivor may decide to wait and see if pregnancy occurs as a result of the assault. If so, a health care provider can discuss pregnancy options with the survivor.
Q: What if I wake up and can’t remember what happened?
A: If a survivor wakes up and cannot remember what has happened–if the last thing he or she remembers was being with friends or anywhere other than where he or she work up, the survivor may have been the victim of date rape drugs. Even if he or she was drinking a lot, and it therefore may be an alcohol “blackout,” it is important to find out what happened.
If someone wasn’t drinking much or not drinking alcohol at all, and has significant memory loss and unexplained whereabouts, he or she needs to get medical help immediately.
Signs that a person may have been drugged:
- If the person sees indications that he or she may have had sexual relations but cannot remember anything taking place.
- If the person has a bad hangover, but wasn’t drinking
- If the person has unexplained memory loss
- If the person feels any of the following symptoms: headache, muscle aches, hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, slowed heart rate.
Date rape drugs often have no smell or taste; they can begin to work as quickly as 10-30 minutes, and after effects can last as long as 4-24 hours. Some drugs, if given in high enough quantities, can cause coma and death.