Anatomy of a forensic sexual assault exam

Because of the nature of the sexual violence perpetrated against Daniel Holtzclaw’s victims, it is likely that many of them did not receive forensic exams following the abuse they suffered. Unfortunately (and fortunately) many people do not know of services available to them once a sexual assault has occurred.

This is about that service…

ANATOMY of a SANE EXAM…from a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE)

1st off: If you’re curious about this because a perpetrator chose to violate you, I AM SORRY THIS HAPPENED TO YOU.

Also importantly: this crime perpetrated against you was NOT YOUR FAULT. In all actuality, HAD HE/SHE NOT CHOSEN TO RAPE YOU, YOU WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN RAPED. It was their choice, not yours. I don’t care if you walked down the street naked, or walked into a bar naked; no one has the right to have sex with you against your
will. NO ONE.

And NO MEANS NO. Any sexual contact beyond that point is sexual assault. PERIOD.

Now begins the blue print for a forensic exam- shortened- the SANE exam.

Many people ask upon seeking these types of services- be it of the officer, the ER nurse, or the sexual assault advocate- “WILL IT HURT?” To that, I say almost never, does it hurt. The SANE will check you over for injury. They may place a speculum into your vagina (only if applicable), and that may cause discomfort, but rarely does it cause pain. (Except for the prophylactic STD injection- that can sting pretty good, but I’ll get to that later.)

Before the SANE looks you over, she will ask QUESTIONS TO GET TO KNOW YOU. This will include your medical history, and other basic information, such as where you live, any surgeries you’ve had, and any medications you’re allergic to.

There will most likely be some UNCOMFORTABLE/INTIMATE QUESTIONS about you; brace yourself for this. It’s not in order for the nurse to judge you, or to make you feel bad, but so that it can be established: if other DNA may be present (other than the perpetrator of the sexual assault), what type of contact occurred, and whether your activities after the assault could have caused some of the DNA to be less prevalent. The SANE will most likely ask if you had consensual sexual contact within a specific timeframe (dependent upon that SANE program). Please don’t be offended: if you had consensual sex with your husband, his DNA will likely also be present, and the lab will need to know that. The SANE will ask you what happened during the sexual assault. This will tell the nurse where to go to collect swabs, as well as how to medically treat you. The SANE will ask if you showered/bathed/pooped/peed/wiped/washedas well as whether you ate or drank anything since the assault.

And then there’s the physical exam. Most of this tickles, and includes swabs (like q-tips) being lightly rolled across your skin.

YOU MAY BE PHOTOGRAPHED. These pictures will NOT be posted on the Internet, or displayed in any other public forum by the SANE, but are used for prosecution of the assailant.

Lastly, you will be TREATED PROPHYLACTICALLY for STDs and in some cases pregnancy. The CDC RECOMMENDS treatment for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomonas. These are currently the most common STDs. For this, you may be given high dose of antibiotics all at once. One of them is an injection of Rocephin. This is the one that stings pretty good, but is top of the line treatment to keep you from getting this nasty bug (gonorrhea). The emergency contraception pills are not abortion pills. If you already have an established pregnancy, it will not effect that.

The SANE and/or advocate will likely give you resources as well. These may include places for follow up medical care, sexual assault counseling, and other helpful information to assist you on your healing journey. Because YOU are NOT ALONE in this.

There is help.

The national rape hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Here is their website:

The Oklahoma state rape hotline is 1-800-522-9054 or 1-405-943-RAPE (7273)

Here is the state rape and sexual assault website:
Here is the YWCA OKC website:

There IS help available. I recommend seeking help from those who are qualified. Possibly that is not your best friend’s sister’s cousin, who may tell you that had you not been there, it wouldn’t have happened, or that if you hadn’t been wearing that maybe the guy would’ve raped someone else. That is, unless that person is supportive of you (none of which the above statements in this paragraph are)


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