Forensic Evidence Collection (i.e. SAFE, SART Exam, “Rape Kits”)
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 (or 9-911 from a campus phone).
If you are injured or need immediate medical treatment, go directly to the nearest hospital emergency room (which may not provide SAFEs).
If you are considering a forensic exam, go directly to the appropriate county site.
- Santa Clara County (including Stanford campus): Stanford Hospital Emergency Department or Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Emergency Department
- San Mateo County: San Mateo Medical Center, The Keller Center for Family Violence Intervention
- Monterey County: Monterey County Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
- For other locations, identify the appropriate county site or go to the site nearest to your current location (e.g., Stanford Hospital Emergency Department)
- What is a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)?
- How do I get a SAFE?
- How do I get transportation to Stanford Hospital or SCVMC?
- What's important to know about SAFEs in Santa Clara County?
- What happens during a SAFE?
What is a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)?
A SAFE can do two things:
- Provide sensitive, thorough medical care
Collect evidence that may be helpful to the prosecution of your case
Other terms: Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) exam, forensic evidence collection exam, medical-legal exam, sexual assault forensic evidence exam, sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) exam, “rape kit," or "rape exam.”
Important: Although medical personnel are required by California law to report to the police instances in which a SAFE process is initiated, you have the right to choose not to report a sexual assault to law enforcement or participate in an investigation, as well as the right to change your mind at a later time. Both the medical personnel and certified advocates can provide more information about these options.
How do I get a SAFE?
If the event happened on campus or in Santa Clara County, you can:
- Go directly to the Stanford Hospital Emergency Department or SCVMC Emergency Department and ask for a SART exam
- SCVMC Address: 751 S Bascom Ave, San Jose, CA 95128
- Stanford Hospital Emergency Department Address: 1199 Welch Road, Stanford, CA 94304
- Call the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) or SCVMC Emergency Department and tell them you want a SART exam (this may reduce waiting time)
- Sexual Assault Response Team (SART): 408-885-6466
- SCVMC: 408-885-5000
- Contact SUDPS at 650-329-2413 and tell them you would like a SART exam.
- Contact the Stanford Confidential Support Team (CST) at 650-725-9955 (24/7 hotline) for questions or assistance accessing these options, or for help identifying and accessing the forensic exam site in another location.
- Contact YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley and ask for assistance in requesting a SART exam.
How do I get transportation to Stanford Hospital or SCVMC?
- Call the Confidential Support Team (CST) at 650-725-9955 (24/7 hotline) to coordinate transportation via Lyft or SUDPS
- Call SUDPS at 650-329-2413 and tell them you are a Stanford student and would like an anonymous courtesy ride to Stanford Hospital Emergency Department or SCVMC for a SART exam (though not strictly confidential, you will not be required to make a police report; contact CST if you would like assistance with coordinating a ride through SUDPS)
- Use your own transportation or arrange for a ride from a friend or family member.
What's important to know about SAFEs in Santa Clara County?
- In Santa Clara County (the county that Stanford is within), the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) is headquartered in Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC). However, exams occur at both Stanford Hospital Emergency Department (also known as Stanford HealthCare) and SCVMC.
- You can go to the Stanford Hospital Emergency Department or SCVMC for:
- non-investigative reporting (NIR) under VAWA,
- as well as any incident that you want reported to law enforcement
- You may state that you don’t want to report to law enforcement at this time
- The sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) will then complete an exam per your wishes with your informed consent
- The SANE will still call law enforcement because they will have to get an incident/case number to you (the patient) before you leave Stanford Hospital or SCVMC.
- You are not required to make a police report or open an investigation at the time of the exam.
- There is no time limit to decide if you want to make a report to law enforcement, so you should retain both the incident number and SART number.
- Non-investigative reporting (NIR) kits will be held indefinitely as there is no statute of limitations.
- If you decide to move forward and report to law enforcement at a later time, you will call the SCVMC SART Program or the YWCA and state that you want to convert to a standard report.
- You will need to sign a consent form to allow the SCVMC SART Program to release your records to law enforcement.
- In the room with you will be a SANE who is trained to be sensitive to survivors of sexualized violence.
- It is your decision which non-medical personnel are in the exam room with you. You may ask anyone to leave at any time.
- You have the right to have a certified advocate from the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley present who can maintain privileged communication and will have knowledge of medical rights and the criminal legal system. They can provide confidential and anonymous services throughout the medical, legal, and administrative procedures of the SAFE exam.
- The SART team is required to contact the YWCA and ask for an advocate to be at the exam; however, you can choose whether and how to use support from the advocate.
- In addition to a certified advocate, you may also have a support person such as a friend or family member with you.
What happens during a SAFE?
Remember, you have the right to consent to or decline any part of the exam at any time.
Note: If you have injuries that require immediate treatment, those will take precedent over the forensic exam process.
Try not to eat, drink, wash, or brush prior to the exam. However, if you have done any of these, you can still get the exam.
- Once at the Emergency Department of SCVMC or Stanford Hospital Emergency Department, you will be escorted to the Family Waiting Room, which is a more private space than the ER waiting room.
- The SANE will take your vital signs (such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature).
- The SANE will call the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley and an advocate will meet you at the hospital. Within an hour of your arrival the advocate will arrive and is available to support you in the forensic evidence collection process. The advocate can explain the process of the exam as well as your rights and choices. It is your choice whether the advocate stays with you in the exam room, waits in the waiting area, or leaves.
- A detective will arrive and will ask to interview you (unless you're participating in non-investigative reporting [NIR]). You have the right not to participate in any interview at this time.
- After you are medically cleared (meaning, if necessary, your injuries are treated), you will move to the SAFE clinic area.
- The SANE will explain the exam and the exam process, and ensure you know your rights. You will then be asked to provide informed consent.
- You will be asked to describe the events of the assault, possibly in the form of your own narrative or an interview. These answers will then direct the course of the medical exam.
- The exam begins with a general health check: blood pressure, blood draw test, heart rate, looking at your eyes, ears and nose, etc.
- All medication is provided for STIs, emergency contraception, and any additional medications for any other possible infections. Post-exposure prophylactic HIV medication is only given within 72 hours of an assault.
- Please note if you had been drinking while underage: lab draws are not punitive (these lab draws are used to establish the existence of substances in the body, both voluntarily ingested and involuntarily ingested, to help determine whether the assault was drug/alcohol facilitated).
- Physical evidence is collected from head to toe, in the form of hair and oral swabs, to identify both your DNA and that of the person who assaulted you. A lamp is used to look for evidence such as semen or saliva.
- A pelvic exam may be done. Initially, the SANE will look at external genitalia, and may do an internal exam (vaginal and/or anal, depending on the assault). You have the right to stop the exam at any time, if it becomes too physically or emotionally painful.
- Photographs may be taken of physical evidence (e.g., bruises, lacerations, tears), but these photographs are focused on such a small part of your body and attached to only your SAFE kit case number so that your identity will not be able to be inferred from any photographic evidence. There is a picture of your face taken to use for an identifying photo for the kit.
- Once all the evidence is collected, it becomes part of a SAFE kit that is signed over to the police. When the police finish their investigation, the evidence is turned over to the relevant District Attorney’s Office (depending on where the assault occurred; if it occurred at Stanford, this would be the Santa Clara County District Attorney).
- You will be offered the opportunity to shower after the exam.
- Your clothes may be taken, so consider bringing a change of clothes if you’re able. Otherwise you will be provided with a change of clothes.
- Overall, the interview can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and the actual examination/treatment portion lasts between 30 to 45 minutes.
- The relevant District Attorney’s office will make a decision regarding the case. If the case moves forward and enters criminal court, you may be called to speak in court as a witness.
SOME OF THE INFORMATION ABOVE HAS BEEN ADAPTED FROM HUMBOLDT STATE UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE AND PREVENTION WEBSITE.