Emergency Care for Sexual Assault
Those who have been sexually assaulted may choose to go to the emergency room. The nearest one to the Evanston Campus is:
2650 Ridge Avenue
At the emergency room, doctors and nurses can treat injuries, test for and treat sexually transmitted infections, test for pregnancy and conduct a rape evidence collection procedure.
If the survivor chooses not to go to the emergency room, they should still consider seeing a private doctor or a clinician at NU Health Service to treat injuries, test for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and obtain emergency contraception. Please note that private doctors outside of the emergency room cannot perform evidence collection (this is only done in the emergency room).
Emergency contraception can also be obtained over the counter without a prescription. For more information, please visit our page on emergency contraception here.
Getting to the ER
Any student requiring emergency medical transport for a serious medical condition should call 911.
Before Going to the ER
If the survivor is interested in an evidence collection kit in the immediate aftermath of an assault, potential evidence will be best preserved if the survivor avoids showering, bathing, going to the bathroom, douching, brushing their teeth, or changing clothes or bedding (if relevant) before going to the hospital. If the survivor does change the clothes that they were wearing during the assault, evidence will be best preserved if they avoid washing the clothes and bring them to the hospital for inclusion in the kit.
What Will Happen at the ER
ER healthcare providers can perform a head-to-toe medical examination, including a genital examination, to diagnose and treat injuries sustained during assaults. They can also perform baseline tests for pregnancy and STIs, including HIV, and provide emergency contraception and medications to prevent and treat STIs. This medication can be provided if the survivor comes to the ER within the window of time in which it is effective (generally about 3-5 days post-assault). Additionally, hospital staff can assist survivors in getting connected to follow-up care. All these services should be offered regardless of whether a survivor chooses to complete an evidence collection kit. Patients of all ages have the right to consent to or decline medical treatment and evidence collection without parental permission or notification.
An Evanston doctor or nurse will call an advocate from Northwest CASA who is trained to assist survivors in understanding medical and evidence collection procedures. A nurse will also call the Evanston or University Police Department and an officer will come to the emergency room to speak with the survivor. If they do not feel comfortable doing so, the survivor is not required to speak with the police or with the victim advocate.
Evidence collection kits are used to collect potential forensic evidence on a survivor’s body in the seven days after an assault. This evidence is intended to be used for criminal legal investigations and prosecution and, accordingly, kits are released to law enforcement for testing. If a survivor is undecided about whether they want law enforcement to proceed with testing the kit at the time of its collection, law enforcement will hold the kit for ten years and will test it at any point if the survivor decides to move forward. This is true even if the survivor does not make a police report at the time that the kit is collected.
If a survivor is interested in pursuing a kit, a specially trained provider called a SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) will conduct the collection procedure. Kits have multiple components involving different parts of the body; some of these components can feel especially difficult for survivors after an assault. However, survivors have the right to refuse any piece of the procedure, to take breaks during evidence collection, to have every procedure explained to them, and to request that a friend, partner, or advocate stay with them during their time in the emergency room. More information about the evidence collection process can be found through Northwest CASA here.
Survivors of sexual assault are not required to pay for any examinations or services that they receive during their visit to the emergency room, including ambulance rides or medication.
If the survivor has private health insurance, the hospital will attempt to collect payment, and the visit to the ER will appear on the insurance billing statement. If they do not have health insurance, the bill will be covered by the state.