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.

SAFE
Are you in a safe place?

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.

 
NashvilleGeneralHospitalExteriorDay.jpg

NASHVILLE GENERAL HOSPITAL

1818 Albion St
Nashville TN, 37208
(615) 341-4000

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?

A sexual assault forensic exam, also known as a medical legal exam or rape kit, involves the collection of evidence from a sexual assault or rape as well as testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. The exam is provided at no cost to you. Sexual assault exams must be conducted within 96 hours of the assault. If you decide to make a report with law enforcement in the future, the exam could provide important evidence that can’t be collected later.

Why should I get a forensic medical legal exam if I’ve experienced sexual assault?

A medical legal exam can provide important evidence if you choose to report your assault to law enforcement and pursue prosecution of your offender. You don’t have to contact law enforcement before getting the exam. Sexual assault forensic exams (SAFE) must be conducted within 96 hours of the assault. If you decide to make a report with law enforcement in the future, the exam will preserve evidence that can’t be collected later.

Do I have to make an appointment to visit the SAFE Clinic?

No. Since medical legal exams are best done as soon as possible, our staff is on call 24/7 to provide you with access to the SAFE Clinic. Please call us at 615-258-5888 to let us know that you are on your way. This will help us prepare for your arrival and reduce your wait time.

Can the SAFE Clinic help me if I don’t want to get a medical legal exam?

If you’re not sure whether you want to get a medical legal exam, we can still help. We encourage you to call our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-800-879-1999 to talk about your options and learn about the other supports and services the staff from the Sexual Assault Center can provide for you.

Does the SAFE Clinic provide medical treatment for victims of sexual assault?

No. If you are in need of emergency medical treatment for injuries caused by a sexual assault, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. The clinic provides sexual assault forensic exams only, which involves the collection of evidence from a sexual assault or rape. Persons receiving a medical legal exam will also be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. Sexual assault exams must be conducted within 96 hours of the assault. The exam is provided at no cost to you.

Do I need to contact the police before I come to the clinic?

No. You don’t have to contact law enforcement before coming to the clinic. You get to choose whether or not to file a police report and pursue prosecution of your offender and it’s a decision you don’t have to make right now. We will talk to you about your options at the clinic.

Will you call the police when I come to the clinic if I haven’t already?

If you are over the age of 18, we will call the police only if you want us to. If you want help filing a police report and would feel safer making the report at the clinic or with our staff, we will help you do that. If you’re not sure whether you want to involve law enforcement, that’s a decision you don’t have to make right now. If you decide to make a report with law enforcement in the future, the exam will preserve evidence that wouldn’t be available to collect later.

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?

The nurse practitioner who conducts the exam will interview you about what occurred. Their notes will be part of the evidence collected that can help you pursue prosecution of your offender. You don’t have to give the person’s name if you know who assaulted you, but the more you can share about what occurred, the better the evidence will be later to prosecute your offender, if that’s what you choose to do.

I was assaulted by a stranger. Will the forensic exam collect their DNA and help police catch them?

Medical legal exams are intended to collect DNA evidence from a sexual assault. However, the type of evidence collected is different for each case. To aid in the collection of evidence, it is best to:
·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?

Yes. The SAFE Clinic is available to anyone age 16 and up who has experienced rape or sexual assault in the last 96 hours. If you’re not sure if this applies to you, call the clinic staff at 615-258-5888 to discuss your options.

Can I bring someone with me to the clinic or do I have to come alone?

You are welcome to bring a friend or family member with you to the clinic. You get to decide when or if you tell someone close to you what happened.

Do I have to bring a parent with me if I’m under the age of 18?

You must be at least 16 years old to visit the SAFE Clinic. Consent by a parent or guardian is not required for a 16 or 17 year old to receive a medical legal exam. However, our staff must notify the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and law enforcement about sex abuse involving a minor.

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?

While you are at the SAFE Clinic, an advocate with the Sexual Assault Center will be available to meet with you and offer other needed supports. Let the advocate know if your experience has impacted your access to housing, food, transportation, school or work.

If I call police, will they bring me to the clinic?

If you are in Nashville-Davidson County, yes. A patrol officer with the Metro Nashville Police Department will respond to your call to take a police report and offer you transportation to the clinic. For surrounding counties, contact the local police department to inquire about transportation to the clinic.

Do you provide transportation to the clinic?

If you need transportation to the clinic, call our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 1-800-879-1999 and we’ll talk to you about your options.

Am I allowed to eat before the exam?

It’s best not to eat or drink anything before the exam as this may interfere with evidence collection.

How soon can I eat after the exam?

You can eat right after the exam is over. There are no restrictions on eating afterward.

Can I shower before or after the exam?

It’s best not to shower, bathe or douche before the exam as this may interfere with evidence collection. When the exam is complete, you will have the opportunity to shower in the clinic’s spa-like bathroom before you leave the clinic.

Will the exam hurt?

The exam may be uncomfortable, especially if parts of your body are sore from the assault. However, nothing will happen during the exam without your consent and you can withdraw your consent and stop the exam at any point.

What will happen during the exam?

Each exam is based on what happened during the assault. The nurse will interview you to decide how best to collect the evidence. A variety of samples will be taken, which may include blood, urine and swabs from your body. Photographs may be taken to document 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.

How long do I have to wait for the results of my exam?

A nurse from the clinic will contact you in 1-2 weeks to schedule a follow up appointment and share any medical test results.

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.

Should I still get a forensic exam if I had consensual sex with someone shortly before the assault?

Yes. Important evidence can still be collected during the exam even if you had consensual sex with the same person or a different person prior to the assault.

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