Forensic Evidence Collection
If you have experienced a sexual assault, you are entitled to undergo a medical exam to collect forensic evidence, sometimes also called a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) exam, forensic exam, or rape kit. Forensic exams are also available after physical assaults, including assaults that occur within the context of domestic or relationship violence.
The purpose of a forensic exam is to collect evidence that may be used in a sexual assault trial. You can get a forensic exam even if you do not want to make a report to the police, in which case the evidence collected will be kept on file for 2 years in case you decide to file a case during that time period.
Forensic exams must be performed within 96 hours of the incident.
The exam is performed at a hospital by a trained doctor or nurse, often by a Forensic Nurse or a SANE, or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. Forensic Nurses/SANEs are RNs who receive specialized training in sexual assault patient care and sensitivity, evidence collection, and courtroom testimony.
During the exam other medical needs may be addressed, including pregnancy prevention and STI prevention. Medication may be offered, including emergency contraception (must be taken within 120 hours of the incident) or PEP, which is post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV (must be started within 72 hours). The Forensic Nurse or SANE will explain the possible risks and benefits of these medications and advise you on whether you may want to take them.
There is no cost to receive a forensic evidence collection kit for sexual assault survivors in Texas, though other costs associated with your hospital visit may arise.
Many hospitals provide these exams, but two recommended programs are Memorial Hermann Hospital or Ben Taub Hospital in the medical center. Forensic exams are NOT available at Student Health Services.
You can request a free ride to and from the hospital for a forensic exam from RUPD by calling x. 6000/ 713-348-6000 from the Houston Area Women's Center (all men, women, and children) or the Montrose Center (LGBT).
The Houston Area Women's Center
(713) 528-7273 (24/7)
The Montrose Center (LGBT specific)
(713) 529-3211 (24/7)
The Houston Area Women's Center or the Montrose Center (LGBT) also provide hospital accompaniment, which means they can send an advocate to meet with you at the hospital, help you understand the process and the resources available to support you in the community, and stay with you during portions of the exam if you want. You can find out more about their hospital accompaniment programs or request an advocate by calling these agencies.
You can get more information about SANE exams at the Texas Attorney General's website here.
Other Medical Attention
If you have experienced any kind of sexual or relationship violence, stalking, or other interpersonal violence that resulted in any injury, you may need medical attention. Rice encourages you to seek medical attention as soon as you are able to, but it is important to note that it is never too late to seek care. Some injuries may not present themselves immediately; you can seek medical support at any time after an assault.
Student Health Services provides many services that may meet your needs, or can refer you to other services off-campus. The doctors at Student Health Services are confidential employees; anything you disclose to them during your appointment about an incident of sexual or relationship violence, or other interpersonal violence, is kept between you and your doctor, unless you are an imminent threat to yourself or others.
Legacy Community Health provides general medical care and walk in services for those who have experienced sexual violence and need assistance with Post-Exposure Prophylaxis.
More resources can be found in survivors handbook located here.