As explained in Columbia’s Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy & Procedures, individuals have multiple options for reporting Sexual Harassment to the College. Regardless of the manner in which an individual may elect to report – or not to report – to the College, individuals who have experienced Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, or any other unwanted physical sexual acts (“Sexual Violence”), and need emergency assistance, shall first and foremost:
A.) Get to a place of safety. Dial 911 for local Police or 312.369.1111 for Campus Safety & Security immediately if at continued risk, and;
B.) Seek any necessary medical attention as soon as possible.
Downtown Chicago Hospitals include:
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Emergency Department), 250 E. Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611 (312.926.5188) (about 2.1 miles from Columbia’s 600 S. Michigan building)
- Rush University Medical Center (Department of Emergency Medicine), 1653 Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612 (312.942.5000) (about 3 miles from Columbia’s 600 S. Michigan Building)
Going to an Illinois hospital for medical care after an incident of sexual violence does not obligate an individual to file a report with the College or the police.
C.) To maximize evidence collection:
- Do not shower or change clothes. Try not to urinate if possible.
- If oral contact took place, do not smoke, eat, drink, or brush teeth.
- If leaving from home, take extra clothes/shoes.
If an individual is uncertain regarding how to respond, that person should consider calling one of the resources listed in section XI of the Policy.
What to Expect at the Hospital
Seeking medical care is important, regardless of whether an individual chooses to report to the police or to the College. Hospitals and other medical centers may provide a physical exam, treatment, and collection of any relevant evidence. The below section includes a summary of and general notes regarding the intake procedure at many Chicagoland hospitals. Please note that the precise procedures at each medical center may vary.
- The Emergency Room Exam
- A local hospital emergency room can provide immediate medical attention. The emergency room responds to both the physical trauma of the Sexual Violence and the process of collecting evidence in case an individual wishes to report to law enforcement. Rape victim advocacy services are also available at many Chicago hospitals to provide support and referrals.
- Hospitals in Illinois are required to notify the local police department that treatment has been given to an individual alleging sexual assault. However, an individual is not required to file a police report.
- An individual may sign consent forms to allow the medical personnel to examine, treat, and administer medication, and to release information to the police. An advocate can be present throughout the exam.
- After an incident of Sexual Violence, the primary medical concerns are physical injuries, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. At the time of the examination, evidence can also be collected that can be used to prosecute the person(s) who it is alleged participated in Sexual Violence. If an individual wishes to have evidence collected, the individual should not bathe, douche or change clothes before the exam. This may destroy evidence. However, typically, evidence may still be collected up to a week after an incident of Sexual Violence. An individual may wish to bring a change of clothes when going to the emergency room, since clothing may be kept as evidence. A sweatsuit or scrubs may also be provided.
- Evidence Collection
- If an individual chooses, the hospital will conduct thorough and complete evidence collection using the Illinois State Police Evidence Collection Kit (the "rape kit"). The entire evidence collection process will be done only with the individual’s consent. The individual may decline any portion of the exam. There is no fee for having a rape kit done and the individual does not need to use personal insurance. The Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) conditions a state’s receipt of certain federal funding on the provision of medical forensic examinations at no cost for individuals alleging sexual assault. The rape kit does not contain any medication.
- Evidence may be collected even if the individual does not plan to report the incident to the police. If the individual decides at a later date that it is best to file a police report, this evidence will be available. Any evidence found during the exam may strengthen any resulting criminal court case should the individual decide to file a police report.
- Evidence collection includes taking samples of substances from the vagina, rectum, and mouth; combings of head and pubic hair; collecting material from beneath fingernails; and collection of any other physical evidence (e.g., saliva from bite marks). These samples will be used to detect the DNA and any other debris from other persons involved or the scene of the incident.
- The clothes the individual is wearing also may be sent to a crime lab and may be kept as evidence until the case is closed. Photographs may be taken of bruises, cuts and other injuries that occurred. The photographs may be kept as evidence until the case is closed.
- Cost of Treatment Outside the Student Health Center or the CareATC Clinic
- The Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (“SASETA”) may cover emergency room costs, including any medications received. In such case, the hospital should not bill for any treatment. If an advocate is present, the advocate may be able to answer any questions related to SASETA and help to ensure that an individual is not charged for treatment.
- Under the Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Act (“CVCA”), victims of violent crimes who qualify can be reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses, loss of earnings, psychological counseling and loss of support income due to the crime.
- Sexually Transmitted Infections
- Sexually transmitted infections (“STIs”) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and HIV can be transmitted during an act of Sexual Violence. An individual may not learn of an STI until several weeks or months after it has been transmitted.
- If an individual is concerned about having an STI, that person should discuss this concern with the treating doctor or nurse. Certain medical professionals can give preventive medicine (e.g., antibiotics, and HIV post-exposure prophylaxis) at the time of the exam. The individual should receive information on any medication given. An individual should make sure to obtain the name, dosage, purpose, and possible side effects of the drug. The individual should get the actual medicine, not just a prescription.
- Even if an individual receives preventive treatment, it is important to be tested for STIs two (2) weeks after Sexual Violence, and again in six (6) weeks. The individual should repeat HIV testing in three (3) to six (6) months. The College Student Health Center (for students) and the CareATC Clinic (for eligible employees) can test for most STIs and provide referrals for free and low-cost STI and HIV testing.
- Pregnancy Testing
- For individuals able to give birth, there is a chance that pregnancy could result from Sexual Violence. A test for pregnancy is recommended for all such individuals of childbearing age who are involved in Sexual Violence involving penetration.
- An individual may request a pregnancy test at the time of the exam. However, a test immediately after Sexual Violence will not show if a person is pregnant from the incident. Follow-up testing is the most reliable way to determine whether an individual is pregnant.
- Having a late period does not necessarily mean someone is pregnant. Stress, tension, and worry can cause a late period; this happens to many individuals who endure Sexual Violence. Pregnancy testing is available at the Student Health Center (for students) and the CareATC Clinic (for eligible employees).