Forensic Medical Examinations Available at No Cost for Sex Assault Victims
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office wants the public to know that victims of sexual assault can receive a free forensic medical examination.
“Sexual assault survivors need to be assured that it’s not their fault,” said Bill Montgomery. “The closer in time to the assault that an exam is conducted, the better chance there is to find evidence. Receiving a medical examination and preserving this evidence can be crucial to aiding possible legal proceedings and preventing future assaults.”
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you are urged to call your local police department as soon as possible. But even if you don’t want the police to be involved, you can call Honor Health—which employs medical personnel specially trained to conduct forensic exams—directly at (480) 312-6339 to arrange your free forensic exam. They are also able to provide referrals for any additional medical treatment needed and counseling services that are available.
Exams are conducted by medical professionals (nurse or doctor) with specialized training in forensics. They are intended to provide medical evaluation and treatment for sexual assault survivors and to collect and document important evidence which may assist in the criminal justice process. The availability of evidence to assist in prosecution can help prevent further assaults by the perpetrator.
What to do if you are assaulted
If you are assaulted, call the police immediately to report the incident and get an exam. Prior to your exam, don’t eat, drink, change clothes, take a shower or bath, and don’t change anything at the location of the attack. Additionally, if you have communicated with the assailant, do not erase texts, emails or voicemails from that person.
Seek counseling. You are not alone and trained specialists are available to help.
“By informing the public of these free exams and the availability of medical attention and counseling services, I hope to encourage survivors to seek help and begin the path of healing,” said Montgomery.
Throughout the month of April, MCAO will be providing information to the public on the prevalence of sexual assault, its impact on individuals and families, and resources for victims and their loved ones. According to the Justice Department, sexual assault is the most underreported violent crime in the U.S., with only an estimated 1 in 5 victims reporting the assault to the police.
Remember, if someone sexually assaults you, it is not your fault. You are never to blame for someone else’s actions. For a toll-free rape crisis hotline, call (800) 656-HOPE (4673).