A Medical Examination
In the event that you are sexually assaulted, it is important that you receive a complete and thorough medical legal examination (MLE). It is imperative that you receive a MLE in order to determine whether or not you have any injuries that you may not be able to immediately identify. A medical examination enables you to identify and preserve physical evidence associated with the crime. In addition, having a medical legal examination can result in the preventative treatment of sexually transmitted infections. You may also receive information regarding the risk of pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault.
Having Evidence Collected
Even if you are unsure as to whether or not you want to make an official police report, as well as unsure about whether or not you want the defendant prosecuted, it is important that you have a medical legal examination. Doing so enables you, the medical personnel, and law enforcement officials to identify and preserve physical evidence associated with the crime, which is the best way to leave your options open for the future. If you neglect to have an MLE within 72 hours of being sexually assaulted, the evidence will be lost.
Where to get Medical Care
If you are the victim of a sexual assault you can receive an MLE at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Adult Emergency Department.
Having Someone with You during the MLE
You may have a support person such as a family member, a friend, or the Vanderbilt University Victim Services Coordinator, with you throughout the medical care process.
Risks of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
The likelihood of getting an STI as a result of a sexual assault depends upon a number of factors, including the type(s) of sexual contact that occurred, the number of assailants, and whether or not an assailant was infected with an STI at the time of the assault. Medical professionals provide sexual assault survivors two options in order to deal with the risks of STIs. You may either choose to reduce the risk of contracting certain STIs by taking immediate treatment which acts as a preventative measure or you may wait to determine whether or not you have contracted an STI or STIs before taking medication. Whichever option you choose, it is important that you be re-examined and re-tested to ensure that you have not contracted an STI or STIs.
Risks of Pregnancy
Your personal risk of becoming pregnant from a sexual assault depends on many factors, including the time in your menstrual cycle when the assault occurred, your current use of contraceptives, your fertility, the fertility of the assailant, and whether or not the assailant ejaculated in or near your vagina. A doctor or a nurse examiner can help you evaluate your personal risk of pregnancy. If it is determined that you are at risk for becoming pregnant as a result of being sexual assaulted, a medical care provider can explain the various treatment options available to you. If you choose to have immediate treatment to prevent the risk of a pregnancy, the options are most effective if you seek care within 72 hours after the assault. You may decide to wait to see if you become pregnant as a result of being sexual assaulted. In the event that you do decide to wait to determine whether or not you are pregnant, a health care provider can discuss your options with you.