If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been a victim of sexual assault, even if you are not certain, you are strongly encouraged to seek immediate assistance. Regardless of whether or not you ultimately decide to file a complaint, seeking immediate medical assistance can be critical to your own physical and mental health, and is critical to the collection of evidence, without which prosecution may not be possible. Until you obtain medical assistance, it is imperative that you do everything you can to avoid showering, brushing your teeth, or using the toilet. If you have already showered or feel you cannot wait to bathe, place your clothing in a paper (not plastic) bag and bring it with you to the clinic or hospital. Seeking assistance can also help you to deal with the shock, inability to concentrate, fear, guilt, depression, self blame, guilt, and shame, that are but a few of the emotions that survivors of sexual assault/violence experience. Assistance is also available for you to obtain important accommodations that can protect you from an unsafe environment. You do not and should not have to suffer alone.
WHERE TO GO / WHOM TO CALL: Assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from the Hastings Department of Public Safety, located on the ground floor of the 198 McAllister Street building, or by phone, at (415) 565-4611. A Public Safety Officer will be able to document your complaint and/or escort you to San Francisco General Hospital’s Emergency Department, where staff are trained and certified in providing treatment to potential victims of sexual assault and/or violence. The Hastings Public Safety Officer may remain with you through as much of the process as you would like, and will be available to escort you to wherever you decide you will be staying afterwards. You may also have a friend accompany you. The Public Safety Officer can assist you in reaching out to a critical support person in your life, such as a family member, a friend, or a roommate, if that is something you would like to do, but the thought of doing so yourself feels too overwhelming. A list of external resources that are available to you as a possible survivor of sexual assault/violence is provided in Appendix D of this policy.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT WHEN SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT: Medical treatment will be address pregnancy prevention and prophylactic treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV and hepatitis, as well as any bodily or psychological injury that may have resulted from the assault. You have the right to decline any or all tests and medications. A rape kit consists of a series of tests used to help collect evidence after someone has been sexually assaulted. It contains forensic equipment appropriate to detect, collect, and preserve evidence. The evidence collected may later be used in court if you decide to press charges against the person who assaulted you. It is important to know that you can have a rape kit done even if you do not yet know if you will want to report the assault to law enforcement and press charges. Having the rape kit done will preserve your options as you process what happened to you and figure out what you would like to do.
IMPORTANT TIMELINES TO KEEP IN MIND:
(1) A rape kit can only be done within 5 of the assault. Evidence degrades rapidly, and can be destroyed as a result of showering, brushing of teeth, or use of the toilet, although a rape kit is still recommended in those cases for collection of possible residual evidence.
(2) Evidence collected during a rape kit is saved, anonymously, for 90 days, in a secure location, in order to allow you time to consider whether you would like to file a complaint with law enforcement. After 90 days, the evidence is destroyed.
(3) HIV prophylactic treatment must be started within 36 hours of the assault.
(4) Emergency birth control is most effective if started within 72 hours of the assault.
(5) If an IUD is inserted within one week of an assault, it can help prevent pregnancy.