Once a sexual assault has occurred it is important that a victim knows and understands their rights. The information in this section will help guide you through what can be a very confusing and intimidating process.
For a strong legal case, it is best to have a forensic exam at major Lucas County Emergency Rooms (ERs). When a sexual assault presents at an ER, the staff will contact the police, but it is up to YOU whether you make a report. Remember, reporting is different from prosecuting, and the decision to pursue charges can be made at a later time.
Contact the YWCA Rape Crisis Center at 419-241-7273 or 866-557-7273 (toll free) and arrange for an Advocate to meet you at the hospital or accompany you to police interviews, and court proceedings.
** The YWCA Rape Crisis Center is a free and confidential Service**
Sexual Assault is considered a violent crime; however, the degree of physical injury varies. Even if you don’t have any obvious physical injuries, it is recommended that you seek medical attention. You may have been exposed to sexually transmitted infections or be at risk for pregnancy.
The choice to have the forensic (evidence collection) exam is yours. Victims do not have to go through the forensic exam. Having physical evidence collected DOES NOT obligate victims to press charges, but it does help to keep their options open. A hospital cannot refuse to treat sexual assault victims if they decline to report to law enforcement.
Physical evidence can be collected through a forensic exam within 96 hours, or 4 days, of the assault. If the assault happened more than 96 hours ago or you choose not to go to the hospital, call the YWCA Rape Crisis Center Hotline at 419-241-7273 or toll free at 866-557-7273.
If you choose to go to the hospital, a YWCA Rape Crisis Center Advocate can be there to offer you help and support through the process. The hospital should call an advocate or you can request one upon arrival at the hospital.
Do not change your clothes, bathe, douche, or brush your teeth, because valuable evidence may be lost. If you must change your clothes, bring them with you in a paper bag (plastic should not be used for evidence purposes.)The physical evidence on the victim’s body and clothing will be collected at the hospital. Medications should also be offered to prevent sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy. The police will be notified of the assault. However, it is up to you to make a police report. Remember, reporting is different from prosecuting, and the decision to pursue charges can be made at a later time.
HIV testing should be completed at an anonymous testing site. Call the YWCA Rape Crisis Center Hotline at 419-241-7273 for referrals.
There is NO COST to the victim for a forensic exam. However, if there are additional medical concerns or tests they are the responsibility of the victim. Contact the YWCA Rape Crisis Center if you receive any medical bills related to your emergency room visit.