Sexual Assault or Rape

No one deserves to be a victim of domestic or sexual violence. You are not alone and this is not your fault. We are here to help you.

If you have recently been sexually assaulted you can take the following steps:

  • Get to a safe place, call 911 if in immediate danger
  • Avoid showering, changing your clothes, brushing your teeth, eating, drinking, or urinating until you have decided whether or not to have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE, formerly known as SANE) at Cayuga Medical Center
  • Call our 24 Hour Hotline to discuss the option for a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) at Cayuga Medical Center
    • This exam is very time sensitive and needs to be completed as close to the assault as possible
    • Seeking a SAFE Exam does NOT require you to report to the police however medical evidence can be collected and stored while you decide
    • Teens can have a SAFE Exam completed without parental permission. Teens can call and talk with an advocate to discuss other confidentiality concerns!
    • Survivors can waive their health insurance and have the NYS Office of Victim Services pay for the SAFE Exam
  • Discuss your legal and safety options- including housing- with an advocate

Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Program

The SAFE Program is a collaboration between the Advocacy Center & Cayuga Medical Center in Tompkins County. This program uses a team approach to comprehensively respond to the medical, emotional, and legal needs of survivors after sexual assault, sexual abuse, or rape. 

Following a sexual assault and with the survivor’s consent, a team of specially trained healthcare providers and advocates work together to address the needs and concerns of the survivor in a timely and compassionate way. SAFE Program staff and advocates care for the wide range of survivor needs and recognize that sexual assault affects people of any age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, income level, ability, or immigration status. 

A SAFE Exam can include:

  • A physical medical exam to check for injuries and make sure a survivor’s body is physically ok
  • Emergency Contraception, STI Testing & Treatment, HIV Post Exposure Medications
  • The option to have forensic evidence collected including blood and/or urine to test for “date rape drugs”
  • Connection to an advocate for ongoing emotional and safety needs
  • Connection to law enforcement, if the survivor chooses

What Can a Survivor Expect?

  • To be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion before, during, and after your care
  • To be seen as quickly as possible. Sexual Assault survivors care is prioritized, although there can be delay depending on how busy the Emergency Room is.
  • To have an advocate with you throughout your care who can answer any questions, inform you of your rights, and make a follow up plan after discharge
  • To be provided with information about and control over what parts of a medical exam or evidence collection process you do or do not what to have completed
  • To choose whether or not to involve law enforcement, except in legally mandated cases such as involvement of a gun or knife in the assault or abuse of a child.
  • To have the SAFE Exam paid for by NYS Office of Victim Services (OVS), regardless of having insurance or not.

Common Questions

  1. Can I get the same medical care at my primary care doctor or campus health center?  Yes and no. Many other health care providers can provide a physical health exam and emergency medications, however forensic evidence collection can only be collected at the Emergency Room.
  2. If I showered, did I ruin the evidence needed for a legal case? Not necessarily. Collecting forensic evidence is time sensitive and if showering can be avoided that provides the most opportunities to collect more types of evidence but an evidence collection kit can be completed even if you’ve showered.
  3. Do I need health insurance? No! The NYS Office of Victim Services pays for the cost of the SAFE Exam. There is no cost to the survivor for the sexual assault exam and survivors can waive their health insurance for privacy reasons. If other injuries need treatment, the healthcare provider and advocate will talk with you about options for coverage.
  4. Can a teen access a SAFE Exam? Yes! NYS allows teens to receive post sexual assault care without the involvement of a parent or guardian. We encourage teens to call our 24 hour hotline at 607.277.5000 to discuss any limits to this confidentiality.
  5. Do I have to report to the Police? No! A survivor can choose whether to report an assault to the police and can have evidence collected and stored for up to 20 years while they decide the right path for themselves. The exceptions to this is in cases of mandated child abuse reporting or the involvement of a gun or knife during a sexual assault the hospital will be required to notify the police, however a survivor can still choose to make a report or not.

Deciding to go to the hospital following a sexual assault or rape can feel overwhelming but you don’t have to do it alone. Call our 24 hour hotline at 607-277-5000 to talk with an advocate or volunteer about your options and with any questions. Medical care if important to make sure your body is ok but you have choices and get to decide what is best for you.