Words From Our Interns Series
By: Shelbie Trompke
Shelbie currently interns at HAVEN and is a senior at the University of New Hampshire, with a major in Human Development & Family Studies, and a minor in Sociology. Shelbie enjoys cats, reading, and drawing.
National statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. In New Hampshire, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 20 men have been sexually assaulted. It can be helpful to understand what survivors go through, as many of us are close to, or know someone who is a survivor of sexual abuse.
After a sexual assault takes place, the survivor has the choice to go to the hospital for treatment, where a medical forensic exam will be offered. An exam is helpful in the diagnoses and treatment of common health problems following a sexual assault, such as injuries, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy. The survivor can refuse any portion of the medical forensic examination and still follow through with other portions of the exam. In addition to the medical exam, if the survivor chooses, any evidence collected can be used in the investigation and prosecution of the crime. When one arrives at the hospital, a confidential HAVEN advocate will arrive shortly thereafter to offer support and discuss options. Keep in mind that having an advocate with you during the exam does NOT mean one has to report the assault, and a survivor may accept or decline HAVEN services at that time.
It’s important to understand as a friend or survivor:
- If one goes to the hospital after a sexual assault, it does NOT mean that they must report the assault.
- The exam can be done anonymously. If they are unsure if they want to report the assault or not, the evidence kit can be anonymous. These anonymous kits are assigned a number, and the kit is held at the state crime lab for 60 days.
- If a survivor decides to report the assault in those 60 days, the crime lab will analyze the evidence. If it’s decided to report the assault after 60 days, be aware that the evidence may have been destroyed. When a survivor leaves the hospital, they will receive more specific instructions regarding reporting options.
- Medical staff are mandated to report the assault of minors under the age of 18 to the police.
- Expenses for forensic medical examinations are covered in full.
- Survivors receive a voucher to cover the costs of a follow-up exam and if any medications are prescribed due to injuries or sexually transmitted infections. In addition, the hospital may prescribe, for free, a prophylaxis to prevent pregnancy, also known as Plan B. For more information regarding expenses, please visit the Department of Justice’s Victims’ Compensation page.
Hospital visits can be nerve-racking, and a trained HAVEN is there to provide confidential emotional support in the moment, and longer term.
Remember: we believe you and you’re not alone.