Should I Seek Medical Care?
Receiving medical care as soon as possible following a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault is extremely important for two reasons. First, you may have suffered injuries of which you are unaware or unable to determine. Testing, treatment, and information regarding sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy may also be needed.
Secondly, if the you think there may be any possibility that you will wish to pursue prosecuting the offender, a medical/legal examination for the collection of evidence is vital. Having evidence collected does not mean prosecution. The forensic evidence will be stored until there has been an investigation. While certain medical assistance can be received from a number of locations, Alliance Community Hospital is the only local place where evidence necessary for medical and forensic evaluation can be collected and secured for legal purposes.
For physical evidence to be present and useful, it is best collected as soon after the assault as possible: preferably within 12-24 hours and no later than 48-72 hours. If you have not already done so, you should not shower, bathe, douche, brush your teeth, eat or drink, or change clothing prior to going to the Emergency Room. Doing so will destroy important physical evidence. If you have already taken any of the above actions, it does not mean that you should not go to the hospital. However, evidence collection may not be as productive. If you changed clothes, you should take all articles of clothing worn at the time of the assault to the hospital. These items will need to be retained as evidence.
Since the crime of rape/sexual assault is a felony offense, hospital personnel are required by law to report the assault to a law enforcement officer. If you have not already spoken with a law enforcement officer, hospital personnel will notify the police that an assault has occurred. A law enforcement officer will come to the hospital to speak to you. It is always your right to decide whether or not to talk to law enforcement, but the police officer will want to hear directly from you if you are unwilling to make a report.
There is no charge for the examination at the hospital if you cooperate with evidence collection. You do not have to request prosecution in order to have the exam for free.
If too much time has passed for a hospital exam to be useful, you can also go to your own doctor or to the Mount Union Health Center for an exam and testing for STD's and pregnancy. In addition, STD testing can be conducted at the Alliance City Health Department or Planned Parenthood of Stark County in Canton. The cost of tests at these facilities is based on a sliding scale. Most college students can expect free or extremely reduced costs. Planned Parenthood also conducts pregnancy tests, as does the Alliance Pregnancy Center. Pregnancy tests at the Alliance Pregnancy Center are free.
Alliance Community Hospital - 200 E. State Street - (330) 596-6000
Mount Union Health Center - (330) 823-2692
Alliance Health Department - 537 E. Market - (330) 821-7373
Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio- 2663 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton - (330) 456-7191
Alliance Pregnancy Center - 75 Glamorgan Ave. - (330) 821-7283