Loyola University Maryland

Counseling Center

Sexual Assault: Your Medical and Mental Health Options

What should I do if I am sexually assaulted?

Remember that you have choices about how to best care for yourself. There is no “right way” or “right thing” to do after a sexual assault. The best option is the one that ensures your self-care. Listed below are several options of what to do, including how to meet your physical safety and emotional needs and how to obtain medical attention.

  1. Find a safe location away from the perpetrator. Ask a trusted friend, roommate, mentor, RA, family member to be with you for moral support.
  2. Know that what happened was not your fault.
  3. Preserve all evidence of the attack.
    • Do not bathe, wash your hands, brush your teeth, eat, or smoke.
    • If you are still in the location at which the crime occurred, do not clean or straighten up or remove anything.
    • Write down all the details you can recall about the attack and the perpetrator.
  4. Report the attack to law enforcement immediately
    • On-campus: 410-617-5911
    • Off –campus: 911
  5. Seek medical care as soon as possible. Even if you do not have any visible physical injuries, you may be at risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease (women may also be at risk for pregnancy).
    • Mercy Medical Center: 410-332-9000
    • Ask the health care professional to conduct a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE).
    • If you suspect you have been drugged, request that a urine sample be collected to preserve evidence.
  6. Recognize that healing from an attack takes time. Give yourself the time you need and know that it is never too late to get help.     
    • Counseling Center: 410-617-CARE
    • Turn Around (24-hour confidential hotline in Baltimore): 410-828-6390     
    • For free, confidential help 24/7, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800. 656.HOPE or online.rainn.org).

Medical Attention

There are several medical decisions for a student to make after a sexual assault. This time is often confusing, frustrating, and filled with a wide range of reactions. Here are answers to the most commonly asked health questions.

Within 72 hours of the incident, you may choose one of these options at Mercy Hospital. 

General Medical Exam  Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)
Usually seen within 4 hours of arrival Usually seen within 2 hours of arrival
Check for injuries Check for injuries
Screen for STDs, HIV, pregnancy Screen for STDs, HIV, pregnancy
Interviewed by a doctor or nurse Interview by law enforcement, doctor, and/or SAFE nurse examiner
Does not require you to report to the police Requires you to report to the police (including a name, if known)
May inquire about medical advice from Loyola Health Center, but will be referred to Mercy for medical attention An advocate from Turn Around will remain with you during the exam and provide follow-up services
Paid by you through health insurance Paid for by the state if you report incident to the police
Can be used in a criminal suit, but less effective than SAFE exam Gathers evidence for use in court
  Preserves legal chain of evidence

After 72 hours, you may choose:

General Medical Exam Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)
At Loyola Health Center or Mercy Hospital Emergency Room Not usually done because little evidence will remain for court use
Check for injuries, even healed injuries  
Screen for STDs, HIV, pregnancy  

Even after 72 hours, it is strongly recommended that you seek medical attention.