Care for Victims of Sexual & Physical Assault
While victims of sexual and physical assault are often afraid to come forward, seeking medical care is vitally important to the survivor’s health, well-being and recovery.
In addition to caring for injuries and offering medications that can prevent sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, our specialty trained nurses at Houston Methodist Emergency Departments also provide forensic medical exams to survivors of sexual abuse, interpersonal violence, sex and labor trafficking, as well as child and elder abuse.
After a sexual or physical assault, it’s critical for the individual to receive a medical-legal exam, including evidence collection within five days of the assault.
Here at Houston Methodist, we strive to ensure that you receive quality health care. Our goal is to lessen the impact of violence by empowering survivors to find strength in taking control of their health and well-being following a traumatic act of violence.
Nurses Specializing in Caring for Assault Victims
Our sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) are registered nurses dedicated to caring for and supporting sexually and/or physically assaulted individuals.
Our forensic nurses are specially trained to:
- Conduct a head-to-toe medical-legal forensic examination
- Provide trauma informed care
- Collect forensic evidence
- Document and photograph injuries and history of assault
- Provide expert testimony in a court of law
In addition, our SANEs will refer you to a licensed community partner offering help with a safety plan, advocacy support and follow-up wellness care.
About Forensic Medical Examinations for Sexual & Physical Assault
Who Is Eligible to Receive an Exam?
Our forensic nurses provide care to any individual 13 years of age or older who has experienced:
- Sexual assault
- Interpersonal violence
- Human trafficking
- Child and elder abuse
Do I Need to Report the Assault to the Police Before My Exam?
It is mandatory to report any sexual or physical assault that has occurred to an individual who is under 18, older than 65 and/or mentally handicapped.
If you are between the ages of 18 and 65 and not mentally handicapped, you can choose whether you would like to report the assault to law enforcement. In the event you decide to come forward at a later date, the crime lab will store your evidence kit up to five years.
Regardless of whether you choose to have a sexual assault exam with evidence collection, you can still receive medical care from one of our board-certified providers.
Can My Exam Wait?
After sexual or physical assault, you have up to 120 hours (five days) from the time of the assault to receive a forensic medical exam. The sooner you come forward the better for evidence collection.
What Happens During the Exam?
During a forensic medical exam, you will receive care from a specialty trained registered nurse who conducts your exam with respect, compassion and confidentiality.
The exam entails a thorough, head-to-toe medical-forensic evaluation and any necessary treatment. Your nurse will provide medication to address sexually transmitted infections, HIV and pregnancy prevention, as well as identify and document any injuries. Your nurse will collect forensic evidence that may lead to the successful prosecution of the perpetrator.
Upon discharge, a safety plan is implemented with medical, advocacy and social services referrals.
Do I Have to Pay for the Exam?
No, the forensic portion of the exam is not your responsibility.
The medical costs of the exam, including medications, X-rays, laceration repair, provider fees may be your responsibility. Your medical insurance may cover these costs. If not, Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) can make a payment to you, or on your behalf, for the reasonable costs incurred for the medical care provided.