Help starts here
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, answer the following questions to determine if a visit to the SAFE Clinic is right for you.
About the SAFE Clinic
If you have recently experienced rape or sexual violence, the SAFE Clinic is a caring and supportive place in the Nashville area that can help. The clinic provides a free medical legal exam, also known as a rape kit, for anyone age 16 or over and can connect you with other needed services. The exam is done by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who is specially-trained in the collection of evidence and the care of sexual assault survivors. The exam also includes free testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.
The exam is provided at no cost to you. And you don’t have to contact law enforcement before visiting the clinic. Sexual assault forensic exams (SAFE) must be done within 96 hours of the assault. A medical legal exam can provide important evidence that can’t be collected later if you choose to report your assault to law enforcement and pursue prosecution of your offender.
The clinic is located on the campus of the Sexual Assault Center (SAC), which provides counseling and advocate services. During your visit to the clinic, you will be connected with staff from SAC who can offer resources and information to help you begin your journey of healing.
What to Expect
Preparing for the Exam
- Call us and come to the clinic for an exam as soon as possible. This will help the nurse collect the most evidence.
- It’s best not to shower, bathe, eat or drink anything before the exam. If you’ve already done some of these things, it’s ok. It’s possible for evidence to still be collected.
- Try to wear or bring the clothes you were wearing during the assault. If you changed clothes right afterward, also try to wear or bring the clothes you changed into.
- You are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you to the clinic, but it’s not required. You get to decide when or if you tell someone close to you what happened.
When You Arrive
- The SAFE Clinic is a secure facility for your protection.
- When you arrive on the campus of the Sexual Assault Center, follow the signs to the SAFE Clinic entrance and pull up to the gate. Follow the instructions on the gate to let us know that you’ve arrived and we will open the gate for you to enter the parking lot.
- A staff member will greet you when you come in the clinic.
- The nurses who conduct the exams are on-call, which means you may have to wait a short period of time for the nurse to arrive.
- While you wait, a trained advocate will be available to meet with you, answer any questions you may have and provide you with support throughout the process.
During the Exam
- The nurse will begin the exam with an interview about your medical history and what happened during the assault. The notes from the interview will provide documentation for your case. This will also help the nurse decide how to collect the evidence during the exam.
- A variety of samples will be taken, which may include blood, urine and swabs from your body.
- Photographs may be taken to document any visible injuries, such as bruising, cuts or swelling.
- Nothing will happen during the exam without your consent and you can withdraw your consent and stop the exam at any point.
- The entire exam process usually takes about 2 hours.
After the Exam
- When the exam is complete, you will have the opportunity to shower in the clinic’s spa-like bathroom.
- Before you leave, the nurse and staff at the clinic will walk you through the next steps, which will include a follow up appointment in a few weeks to learn of any medical test results.
- The advocate from the Sexual Assault Center will let you know how to seek counseling services as well as other supports if your experience has impacted your access to housing, food, transportation, school or work.
- If you filed a report with law enforcement before or during your visit to the clinic, a sex crimes detective will be in touch in the following days about how to proceed with your criminal case.
- If you are still deciding whether to pursue criminal charges, your evidence kit will be held and not processed by the crime lab until there is a police report to go with the kit.
Other Exam Locations
Unless you have been seriously injured, you don’t have to go to a hospital to get a medical legal exam. The SAFE Clinic provides the same type of exam as a hospital by specially-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
However, if you need medical care or would prefer a hospital setting for your exam, the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam team at Nashville General Hospital is on call 24 hours a day. This specialized team of nurse practitioners provide expert care and treatment to survivors of sexual assault. Sexual assault survivors can present to the Nashville General Hospital Emergency Department within 96 hours of the assault.
NASHVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL
1818 Albion St
Nashville TN, 37208
Other hospital locations in Nashville will begin offering medical legal exams soon.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a sexual assault forensic medical exam or rape kit?
Why should I get a forensic medical legal exam if I’ve experienced sexual assault?
Do I have to make an appointment to visit the SAFE Clinic?
Can the SAFE Clinic help me if I don’t want to get a medical legal exam?
Does the SAFE Clinic provide medical treatment for victims of sexual assault?
Do I need to contact the police before I come to the clinic?
Will you call the police when I come to the clinic if I haven’t already?
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT MINORS: We are legally required to report sexual assault involving a minor to the proper authorities. Anyone age 16 and up can visit the SAFE Clinic without consent by a parent or legal guardian. However, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and law enforcement will be notified if you are under the age of 18.
If I know the person who assaulted me, do I have to tell you their name?
I was assaulted by a stranger. Will the forensic exam collect their DNA and help police catch them?
·Get the exam as soon as possible.
·Not shower, bathe, eat or drink anything before the exam.
·Do not change your clothing. If you have already changed, bring the clothing you were wearing during the assault with you.
My assault happened outside of Nashville. Can you still help me?
Can I bring someone with me to the clinic or do I have to come alone?
Do I have to bring a parent with me if I’m under the age of 18?
If you are under the age of 16, Our Kids Center provides expert medical evaluations and crisis counseling services for child sexual abuse. Our Kids clinical staff are on call for emergencies 24/7. Call (615) 341-4911 or visit www.ourkidscenter.com.
What do I do after the exam if I don’t feel safe going back to my home, apartment or dorm?
If I call police, will they bring me to the clinic?
Do you provide transportation to the clinic?
Am I allowed to eat before the exam?
How soon can I eat after the exam?
Can I shower before or after the exam?
Will the exam hurt?
What will happen during the exam?
How long do I have to wait for the results of my exam?
If you file a report with law enforcement before or during your visit to the clinic, a sex crimes detective will be in touch within a few days to discuss how to proceed with your criminal case and to share when you will learn more about the results of your evidence kit. The legal process may take weeks or months.
If you are still deciding whether to pursue prosecution of your offender, your evidence kit will be held and not processed by the crime lab until there is a police report to go with the kit.