Ascension SE Wisconsin Hospital - St. Joseph Campus
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Compassionate after assault care in Wisconsin
Your safety is our top priority. If you have been physically or sexually assaulted, we are here for you. You may choose to have a forensic evaluation after being assaulted. Our specialists listen to you and your concerns. Then, we deliver the care you need. At Ascension Wisconsin, we have a dedicated forensic nursing team offering 24/7 care to patients of any age. Our care includes:
- Emergency care for medical conditions
- Forensic examination with or without evidence collection with a trained sexual assault nurse
- Forensic photography
- Support from an advocate
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) and pregnancy prevention
- Coordinating follow-up care and support
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, go directly to the ER or dial 911.
Specialists dedicated to your care
When you come to Ascension Wisconsin for care after an assault, know you will have a specialist dedicated to your care. We have forensic nurses who have specialized training to help those who have been assaulted. You will be cared for in a safe, private and compassionate environment. We provide a thorough assessment, a complete event report and medical history, as well as the collection of forensic evidence, if you choose. Your nurse can also help with photo documentation, community resources, and testifying in court, if needed. We are here to provide the care and support you need.
We care for those who have experienced assault, including:
- Sexual assault
- Violence and domestic abuse
- Elder abuse and neglect
- Human sex trafficking
Care teams at Ascension Wisconsin connect you with resources and organizations within the community. Our goal is to treat the whole you and give back as much control as possible within this process.
What to do if you are sexually assaulted
It is important to know you have options. We work closely with law enforcement if you are wanting to report your assault. You do not have to report your assault to the police department if you do not want to. We listen to your concerns and respect your preferences. Your forensic nurse takes the time to discuss this with you at the start of the exam.
Here are some ways you can help preserve evidence, if possible:
- Avoid showering or bathing
- Avoid changing clothes
- Avoid urination (if possible)
- Avoid having a bowel movement (if possible)
- Do not brush your teeth
- Do not use mouthwash
- Do not drink anything
- Do not douche
If you already did any of the above listed, that is OK. Evidence can still be collected within 5 days (120 hours) of the assault. If you have any other items that are related to the assault, bring them to the exam for evidence collection or hand it over to law enforcement.
What to expect during a forensic exam:
- You will be asked to give consent for the exam or kit collection.
- A safety plan will be created.
- Your exam and medical information will be kept private.
- You will have a trusting and caring care team.
- Education on each step of the process.
- We will gather detailed documentation of the event.
- You may have an assessment and genital exam.
- Evidence may be collected.
- You may be given STI and pregnancy prevention medications.
- We will share resources and create a plan for follow-up care.
- You may have an advocate for support if you choose to.
All patients have the right to a sexual assault or forensic examination. Patients over 18 may choose whether or not to report the assault to law enforcement. If not reported to law enforcement, all evidence collected will be held by the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for nine and a half years to allow assault survivors the option to officially report the event. Law enforcement officials must be notified of assault patients who are 17 and younger.
Ascension Wisconsin will not contact law enforcement without your written permission. However, health care providers are mandated reporters and are required to report child abuse, abuse of vulnerable adults, and certain serious wounds regardless of whether consent is provided.
Resources in the community
If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault, human sex trafficking, or domestic violence assault you are not alone. Our forensic nursing program can provide support and resources to local community partners to provide assistance.
Dial 211 or 877-947-2211 in times of a personal crisis or community disaster. This free, confidential helpline makes it easy to get connected to information and assistance.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the national hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. For additional resources in your community, visit humantraffickinghotline.org.
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