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Get to a safe place Immediately and receive medical attention as soon as possible.  Prompt medical treatment for the victim is essential in all sexual assault cases. 

Medical personnel have been trained to perform these exams in a manner which respects the emotional well-being of the victim in addition to treating their injuries and addressing their concerns regarding sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.  A hospital examination ensures that valuable corroborative evidence is not lost.

For sexual assault cases, all hospital emergency rooms have been provided with a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit from the Rhode Island Department of Health.  The best medical evidence is collected up to 72 hours after a sexual assault.  This kit can be used on both males and females.  If the victim does not have medical insurance, the medical facility will provide the examination and collection at no cost.  However, there may be some additional charges.

Regardless of whether or not the victim has decided to file a police complaint, the Rhode Island Department of Health will accept all sexual assault evidence kits.  Victims who are unsure about making a report at the time of the incident may decide to come forward in the future, and the evidence may be helpful at that time.

A sexual assault victim should be advised not to change clothes, shower, bathe, douche, eat, drink, smoke or chew gum before the examination.  Even if she or he has, the exam may still produce evidence.  The victim should be advised that the clothing worn at the time of the assault will also be collected as evidence.

Medical Attention

Medical attention may be necessary for the following:

  • Physical injury or trauma
  • Collection of evidence should the victim decide to press charges
  • Pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases

If you decide to receive medical attention: 

  • Do not disturb your appearance.
  • Do not wash, bathe, douche or change clothes.
  • If you have changed clothes, bring the clothes you were wearing at the time of the incident (and do NOT wash them). The clothes may be held as evidence.
  • Tell the emergency room staff that there has been a sexual assault, so that you will be attended to immediately.

Medical Resources

Women and Infants Hospital (for female patients)
(401) 274-1100

Rhode Island Hospital (for male and female patients)
(401) 444-4000

RWU Health Services (for male and female patients)
(401) 254-3156

Counseling and Emotional Assistance

Although trauma victims react in different ways, sexual assault victims experience profound emotional trauma.  Common responses include:

  • Initial feelings of shock and disbelief 
  • Fears about personal safety
  • Preoccupations with recurrent intrusive thoughts about the assault
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Feelings of anger, shame and self-blame

Victims of acquaintance rape often experience intense feelings of shame and self-blame.  Many also feel betrayed because they have been violated by someone they initially trusted.  Some victims lose confidence in their own judgment and find it hard to learn to trust again.

Regardless of whether you report the assault, you should always seek counseling and support to help with the emotional trauma associated with sexual assault.  Two counseling resources are:

RWU Center for Counseling and Student Development
(401) 254-3124

Day One (formerly Sexual Assault & Trauma Center of Rhode Island)
(401) 421-4100

Students may access the Counseling Center staff after hours by contacting:

  • RWU Public Safety at (401) 254-3611
  • RWU on-call C.O.R.E.
  • RWU R.A., H.A.W.E. or P.E.E.R.

In addition, Day One operates a 24-hour hotline. Advocates are trained to provide a variety of services (e.g., meeting you at Women's and Infants Hospital, helping you to file charges with the local police office, appearing in court, etc.).

Filing a Report

Many sexual assault cases go unreported because the victim fears retaliation or possible humiliation if word gets around that she has been the victim of a sex offense. Survivors tend to feel guilty, as though they did something to bring it on themselves, and often keep the assault to themselves.  Sometimes, they might share some of the incident with a close friend.

Students who have been sexually assaulted in any way are not to be blamed. Their assailants are at fault, and the behavior is not acceptable. In order to stop this type of criminal activity, we encourage victims to help start the healing process by reporting what has happened to them. 

Filing a report helps with the following:

  • Protects you and others from victimization
  • Apprehends the alleged assailant
  • Maintains future options regarding criminal prosecution

You may report the assault to one of the following on- or off-campus Law Enforcement Offices:

RWU Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards
(401) 254-3042
 
RWU Public Safety Office
(401 )254-3611
 
Bristol Police Department
(401) 253-6900
 
Portsmouth Police Department
(401) 683-1155