Decide whether to pursue a rape kit exam
If you were raped or sexually assaulted within the last two weeks, you should first decide whether or not to pursue a rape kit exam. Sometimes referred to as a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE), a rape kit exam is designed to gather evidence that can be used in the prosecution of sex crime perpetrators. While reporting is not required in most cases when pursuing a rape kit exam, these exams are typically only necessary if a patient plans to report.
To learn more about rape kit exams and decide whether to pursue one, check out the following articles:
If you do not plan on pursuing a rape kit exam, make a regular appointment with your healthcare provider.
If possible, visit a doctor you already know and trust
Although this won’t be possible for all survivors, visiting a doctor you already have an established and trusted relationship with can be a huge help when preparing for a difficult conversation about sexual assault.
If you make an appointment with a new provider, try doing some research online first to find out if the practitioner has experience working with assault victims. Depending on where you live, it may be easier or more difficult to find healthcare providers who are experienced with and sympathetic toward the needs of assault victims.
Prepare to be asked intimate questions
While it may seem obvious, it’s important to emotionally prepare as much as possible for the fact that you will be sharing intimate details about a traumatic experience with your doctor.
When you call to make your appointment, you will likely also be asked by the person on the phone what the appointment is regarding. You do not have to divulge any information you don’t feel comfortable sharing at this time. You can simply say you have reproductive health concerns or that you would prefer not to share any details until you speak with your doctor.