RVAP provides many types of medical advocacy to survivors. While we are most known for emergency medical advocacy in the days immediately following an assault, we also provide general medical advocacy to survivors for a variety of health concerns.

Emergency medical advocacy after a sexual assault

Your options: Survivors have several options depending on when the assault took place and the survivors' individual needs. Please remember, you always have the option to not seek medical attention or certain medical services.

How RVAP advocates can help: Advocates can help clarify and explain medical options. We can also accompany if you decide to go to the ER or another clinic for medical care. Our services are free and confidential.

If you choose to go to the ER, upon your arrival, the ER should automatically call RVAP and request an advocate and specialized nurse, known as the sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE). Some hospitals unfortunately do not have SANEs, so you may receive care from another type of provider. If you do not want an advocate present, you may deny services. If you do want an advocate and the ER does not call, you may call our 24-hour crisis line at 319-335-6000 or 1-800-228-1625 and request an advocate yourself.

Your rights: In the state of Iowa, per code 709.22, survivors of sexual assault have the right to a sexual assault examination (i.e., forensic evidence exam) performed at state expense and the right to an advocate during the exam.

What is involved in a medical forensic exam and what is the time limit?

What? Timeframe
Head to toe exam to assess and treat injuries 14 days
Medications to prevent/treat for STIs Any time
Medication to prevent HIV transmission 72 hours
Emergency contraception (medication to prevent pregnancy) 120 hours
Urine collection for drug-facilitated sexual assault 120 hours
Forensic evidence collection 120 hours

What items can be collected for?

  • Clothing
  • Debris
  • Urine samples (for drug or alcohol facilitated sexual assault)
  • Swabs for DNA

What is the cost of an exam?

There is no charge for a sexual assault medical forensic exam or for any medications prescribed. The hospital should not bill to your insurance information for the exam. Billing procedures vary by hospital and medical clinics.

For more information please call our 24-hour support line at 319-335-6000 or 1-800-228-1625

Am I required to report to law enforcement?

No. Once evidence has been collected it can be stored for up to 10 years, giving you time to decide if you would like to report or not.

Do I have to participate in all parts of the exam?

No. You can participate in as much or as little of the exam as you choose. The healthcare provider will provide you with information regarding each step of the exam and allow you to consent or decline. You can withdraw your consent, take a break, or end the exam at any time if you choose. For some portions, you may also be able to swab yourself if desired instead of having the provider do it.

Tips before going to ER:

  • Don't bathe, shower or douche
  • Don't eat, drink or brush teeth
  • Bring clothes you had on during or after the assault in a paper bag

What if I already showered/bathed/brushed my teeth/etc?

That’s alright! Evidence has been found on patients even after multiple showers. The provider will still make every effort to collect evidence if you choose to have a forensic evidence kit collected.

Other options for care after an assault

You can visit a family physician or local clinic (e.g., Emma Goldman Clinic, Planned Parenthood) for a general check-up and/or sexually transmitted infection prevention or treatment.

General medical advocacy

Due to the personal nature of healthcare, getting care after experiencing sexual violence can be an alienating experience for many survivors. Advocates may accompany survivors to other medical appointments if desired. We can help survivors understand treatment options, communicate more effectively with their providers, and get accommodations they need to make healthcare more comfortable to them. Advocates can also help survivors apply for health insurance through government programs and find funds to pay for certain healthcare costs.