What is medical advocacy?
You still have the choice to go to the emergency room for a forensic exam (rape kit) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You may choose go to the hospital after an assault. Even if you are not thinking of reporting the assault, a good check on your physical health may be important to treat or prevent future issues.
A medical advocate can support you during a sexual assault exam and evidence collection. If you go to a hospital that is part of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, they will call the Rape Crisis Center in your area. If you go to an emergency room that is not part of the SANE program, you can ask the hospital to call the Rape Crisis Center hotline of your area for a medical advocate. If you go to Lowell General Hospital they will call The Center for Hope and Healing Inc. and one of our well trained medical advocates will be ready to support you.
What does a medical advocate do?
Our medical advocates are on call 24 hours a day to support you in the emergency room following an assault.
CHH medical advocates are trained to provide you the following services:
- Meet you at the hospital emergency room and stay with you during your visit
- Advocate for your needs with the hospital staff
- Explain sexual assault exams and evidence collection kits
- Provide information so you can make the best possible decisions for your situation
- Talk with your loved ones who come to the hospital about how to best support you
- Help you connect with a variety of resources for safety and support
- Refer you to CHH for free and confidential counseling
Call 800-542-5212 and ask for a medical advocate.
What to expect in the hospital:
At the hospital the following services are available to you:
- 24/7 accompaniment by a rape crisis counselor/medical advocate
- General physical exam
- HIV PEP and STD testing
- Emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention
- Forensic exam (rape kit; you can decline any part of the evidence collection kit.)
If you wish to report the assault to the police they can be called; it is an option and is not required. Going to the hospital is not the same as calling the police.
Time Sensitive Information
If you wish to have the forensic evidence collection kit done, it is important to have in mind that the optimal time to do so would be within 120 hours (5 days) of the assault. For best evidence collection results, it is suggested to not bathe, shower, brush your teeth, or go to the bathroom after the assault to preserve the evidence; although, you can still go to the hospital even if you have done any or all of the above.
If you would like to seek medical attention after 120 hours following the assault, you can go to your primary care doctor or health center for a medical check up.
Should I get a rape kit done?
After a sexual assault, you may face emotional, medical, and legal decisions. There are no right or wrong choices, it is about what justice looks like for you.
Allowing evidence of your assault to be collected does not mean that you have to report it to the police now or in the future, and if later you decided to report you may have evidence to support your claims and making a criminal case more successful. Because the collection of evidence is time sensitive, you may decide to have the kit done and stored for the next 6 months.
The sexual assault forensic evidence collection kit is free. Click here for information about billing/privacy.
Main Telephone Number – 978-937-6000
TTY – 978-937-6889
295 Varnum Avenue
Lowell, MA 01854
Lowell Community Health Center proudly provides access to high quality, affordable health care to children and adults of all ages — regardless of their ability to pay.
Lowell Community Health Center offers comprehensive HIV services including counseling, testing, treatment, social support and advocacy for those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS. The medication adherence program can assist patients with the often complicated process of creating schedules for taking HIV medications, understanding and managing side effects, and offering moral support.
161 Jackson Street, Lowell, MA 01852