1. Not every ER is a participating facility for rape kits. Call one of the national hotlines or call the actual hospital to find out where to go. Even if that ER does not offer it, they will be able to direct you to the closest one.
2. You have three options in most
- Get the medicines (for STD's, HIV,
Morning After Pill) and leave.
- Get the rape kit exam (like a gyno
exam) and use it to press charges
right then and there.
- Get the rape kit exam and put it on a "hold", in NJ I was able to put it on hold for five years. That gives you five years to digest the incident, get counseling, heal, and decide to use it to prosecute or have it destroyed. You can call them anytime in those 5 years to do either.
Finally, make your decision within 5 days after your assault to go to the hospital. The exam will only be able to collect DNA for 5 days, and the meds are effective within a short window of time. HIV preventative medicine only works within 72 hours.
If it is beyond 5 days and you are just deciding to look at your options, it's OK. You are still a victim and need to seek the help that is available to you- often for free- to get your life, emotions, and health back on the right path.
NOTHING minimizes your experience of being assaulted.
Resources often are found at county and state level. Here is a national resource list.
I found that google-ing my state and the phrase, "rape resources" or "rape services," was the best way to find local help.
Available 24 hours everyday
No matter what resource you use. Be aware that you are entitled to have a victim advocate meet you for your exam and sit with you through the whole process. In my case, she was most helpful as just someone to talk to while waiting for the ER discharge papers and meds. The forensic nurse will also be able to explain to you your rights.