After yesterday’s post, I thought I would follow up on that topic by explaining about the process for securing evidence collection after a sexual assault.
Your safety and health are most important. Please consider seeing a health care provider even if you don’t want to make a report to police right now. The health care provider can check you for injuries and talk to you about possible pregnancy concerns and/or sexually transmitted infections. Whether or not you are ready or want to report the assault, the health care provider or trained forensic nurse examiner can also collect evidence of the assault from your body. This is called a P.E.R.K. exam.
Where can I get support and information?
Sexual Assault Crisis Centers have staff and volunteers who are trained to provide free crisis-intervention and counseling services to people who have been sexually assaulted. They also have people trained to come to the hospital and/or the police station to help you.
In Richmond, the hospitals that have forensic programs are: St. Mary’s Hospital and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV).
What is a P.E.R.K. exam? (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit)
A P.E.R.K. is a special medical exam given to people who have been sexually assaulted to collect evidence that may be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual assault. If you think you may want to report the assault to the police, the sooner you have evidence collected, the better.
How soon should a P.E.R.K. exam be done?
A P.E.R.K. exam needs to be done within 72 hours preferably. Most often will not be done if more than three days have passed since the assault (although some sites will do exams up to 5 days).
Do I have to have a P.E.R.K. exam?
No. If you have decided that you do not want to make a report to law enforcement now or in the future, then having evidence collected by having a P.E.R.K. exam may not be the right choice for you. Advocates from your Sexual Assault Crisis Center or the statewide Hotline (Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-838-8238) can help you through the choice to have or decline a P.E.R.K. exam.
If I don’t have a P.E.R.K. exam, will the police be called?
By law, health care providers DO NOT have to report sexual assaults to the police unless there are certain weapons used during the assault (Virginia Code: 54.1-2967).
Note: Health care providers may have to report the sexual assault if you are under 18 or an adult who depends on another adult for care.
Who will pay for the P.E.R.K. examination?
The Commonwealth of Virginia will pay for the costs of the P.E.R.K. exam. You do not have to participate in an investigation to have the P.E.R.K. paid for. Your insurance will be billed first if you have Medicaid, Medicare, CHAMPUS, Tri-Care or another type of federal insurance. If you do not want the insurance information to be sent to your home, please tell the health care provider.
If I choose to have a P.E.R.K. exam, what do I need to know?
If at any time you are uncomfortable with any part of the exam, you have the right to stop the exam. If you have questions about what the doctor or nurse are doing, you have the right to ask.
You have the right to a P.E.R.K. exam without having to talk to the police at the hospital or anytime after the assault. If you have concerns about the police.
If you want to report the assault, the police will most likely talk to you at the hospital to get more information about what happened.
If you are unsure about reporting or you are not ready to talk to the police at the hospital, please tell the doctor , nurse, or police officer.
If you are not ready to talk to the police or report the assault, the police will probably still be called to the hospital to pick up the evidence. At this time the doctor or nurse will most likely have to give the police some information about you. If this concerns you, please talk to the doctor.
You may be responsible for other costs associated with the assault. Contact the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund for more information on costs and payments.
If I choose not to talk to the police, what do I need to know?
You can make a report to law enforcement any time you are ready. If you decide that you want to report the assault to the police, you can call 911 or your local Sexual Assault Crisis Center to help you make the call.
If you decide not to talk to the police immediately after the assault, other evidence may be lost. Immediately after an assault, the police usually try to collect other evidence from the suspect(s), the crime scene(s), and/or from you.
The sooner you report the assault to the police, the better the chance for a successful prosecution of the offender for the assault against you.
If you have questions, please call:
Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-838-8238
Crime Victim Assistance INFO-LINE at 1-888-887-3418 (9am-5pm Mon-Fri)
Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund at 1-800-552-4007
“Coping with Sexual Assault: A Guide for Professionals and Volunteers Working with Sexual Assault Victims” copyrighted by Sugati Publications at http://www.SugatiPublications.com