Have you been sexually assaulted?
Sexual assault is any form of sexual activity with another person without her/his consent. This may include kissing, fondling, intercourse, molesting, grabbing, or being forced to touch someone else.
Sexual assault is a crime. It can happen between strangers, on a date or between people who are married. Sexual activity of any kind is only supposed to happen when the people involved agree.
The Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre at St. Joseph's Health Care London provides care to people who have been sexually assaulted. We treat males and females of any age, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We see people hours after an assault and/or up to one year after an assault.
There are no direct costs to the patient/client for any of the services we provide.
Costs of care are covered by provincial government health funding.
There are three services we offer following a sexual assault.
You may choose to do none, some, all, or part of these services.
- Physical (medical) care (Available up to 1 year following the assault)
- Emotional care and support (Can be started up to 1 year following the assault)
- Forensic evaluation (Available up to 7 days following the assault in most cases.Forensic means "of the law" and refers to collection of evidence.)
Immediate medical concerns, such as severe injuries, will be addressed by the Urgent Care Centre or hospital emergency department prior to calling the on call nurse.
Other medical issues may include:
- Exposure to disease (such as HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, see Sexually Transmitted Infections)
- Unplanned pregnancy
You can choose to have:
- Medication that can be effective in preventing chlamydia and gonorrhea
- Medication that can be effective in preventing HIV
- Hepatitis immune globulin that can be effective in preventing hepatitis B
- Medication that can be effective in preventing pregnancy
Emotional Care and Support
The staff of the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre are there to help you get through this difficult time. We cannot tell you what to do, but we provide support while you make choices that are best for you. We can help ensure you will be discharged to a safe place.
The program social worker provides a safe and confidential environment to assist individuals to manage their multiple and conflicting feelings and thoughts. Counseling provides people with the opportunity to express their emotions, to understand their pain in context of trauma recovery, and to empower them to reestablish themselves as survivors.
Significant others, such as parents, friends, and partners are also seen for support and to provide them with education and information about trauma. This is offered with the client's consent.
Referrals to the social worker come through the on-call nurse, or examiner following presentation to the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre for treatment and possible forensic documentation. Referrals also come directly from the community, as well as self-referrals, for up to one year following a sexual assault.
The Forensic Examination (Sexual Assault Evidence Kit)
The forensic examination is an option available if you choose to report this crime to the police, or if you are uncertain about notifying the police but would like to have any evidence collected while it is available. You have the right to decline all or any part of this examination at any time.
If you are uncertain about reporting the assault to the police, the samples can be collected within 7 days and stored by police until you decide to report the crime. The police will not examine or view the kit until they have written permission from you to do so.
If you choose not to have a forensic examination you can still notify the police of the assault at any time.
The forensic exam includes:
- A detailed description and sometimes photographs of injuries
- Blood, urine, hair, skin swabs, and genital swabs and samples
- Collection of clothing
Evidence is best obtained as soon after the assault as possible, ideally less than 72 hours. It is helpful if you have not showered or bathed before coming to the hospital, but if you have, don't worry, there are still things we can look for and document.
A forensic kit cannot "prove" or "disprove" an assault took place but it is a way to establish that contact between you and another person took place. The absence of visible injuries or evidence does not mean you will not be believed.
We recommend that our patients return to the treatment centre for follow-up care and to obtain the results of any tests in the days following the visit.
We understand what you have been through. We will listen, respect the your choices and help you to regain control of your life.
Please see the Community Partners and Links page for an extensive list of organizations available to help people in London and the surrounding area cope in this difficult time.
We also talk to community groups, professionals or educational institutions about the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Centre. Please contact us for more information or to book a speaker.