As explained in Columbia’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy & Procedures, individuals have multiple options for reporting Sexual Misconduct to the College depending on their preferences, comfort level, and confidentiality needs. Regardless of the manner in which an individual may elect to report – or not to report – to the College, individuals who have experienced any act of Sexual Violence – i.e. unwanted physical sexual acts such as rape, as defined in Section XIII– and/or need emergency assistance after an incident, shall first and foremost:
- Get to a place of safety. Dial 911 for local police or 312-369-1111 for Campus Safety and Security immediately if at continued risk, and;
- Seek any necessary medical attention as soon as possible. Downtown Chicago Hospitals include:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Emergency Department)
250 E. Erie St. (about 2.1 miles from Columbia’s 600 S. Michigan Ave. building)
Chicago, IL 60611
Rush University Medical Center (Department of Emergency Medicine)
1653 W. Congress Pkwy. (about 3 miles from Columbia’s 600 S. Michigan Ave. building)
Chicago, IL 60612
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.
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, he or she should consider calling one of the advocates or resources listed in section X of this Policy.
What to Expect at the Hospital
Seeking medical care is important, regardless of whether a victim of Sexual Violence chooses to report to the police or to the College. Medical attention may include a physical exam, treatment and collection of any relevant evidence. The below section includes a summary of and general notes regarding the intake procedure for victims of Sexual Violence at many Chicagoland hospitals. Please note that the precise procedures at each medical center may vary. (This information is adopted from After Sexual Assault, Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Loyola University Chicago’s Sexual Assault resources page.) The victim should not be charged or billed for this treatment. See “Cost of Treatment” below.
- 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 a sexual assault survivor. 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. The nurse or advocate will explain the exam procedures and 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) – through the College’s grievance procedures and/or the criminal system – who participated in the Sexual Violence. If an individual wishes to have evidence collected, he or she should not bathe, douche or change clothes before the exam. This may destroy evidence. However, evidence may still be collected up to a week after a sexual assault. An individual may wish to bring a change of clothes when he or she goes to the emergency room, because 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 his or her 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 his or her 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 victims of sexual assault. The rape kit does not contain any medication.
- Evidence may be collected even if the individual does not plan to report the attack to the police. If he or she decides at a later date that he or she would like 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 Respondent’s DNA and any other debris from the Respondent or scene of the incident.
- The clothes the individual is wearing also may be sent to the 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 during the assault. The photographs may be kept as evidence until the case is closed.
- Cost of Treatment
- The Sexual Assault Survivors Emergency Treatment Act (SASETA) will cover emergency room costs, including any medications received. The hospital should not bill for any treatment. If an advocate is present, he or she can answer any questions related to SASETA and will 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 a sexual assault. An individual may not know that he or she has an STI until several weeks or months after it has been transmitted.
- If an individual is concerned about having an STI, discuss this with the doctor or nurse. He or she can give preventive medicine (antibiotics, HIV post-exposure prophylaxis) at the time of the exam. The individual should receive information on any medication given to him or her. An individual should make sure he or she knows the name, dosage, purpose and possible side effects of the drug. He or she 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 weeks after the attack, and again in six weeks. The individual should repeat HIV testing in 3 to 6 months. The College Student Health Center can test for most STIs and provide referrals for free and low-cost STI and HIV testing. The ATC Care Clinic may be able to provide relevant assistance as well.
- Pregnancy Testing
- For women, there is a chance that pregnancy could result from a sexual assault. A test for pregnancy is recommended for all women of childbearing age who are sexually assaulted.
- An individual may request a pregnancy test at the time of the exam. However, a test at the time of the sexual assault will not show if she is pregnant from the assault. 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 sexual assault survivors. Pregnancy testing is available at the Student Health Center (for students) and ATC Care Clinic (for eligible faculty and staff).