Survivors of sexual assault have undergone a frightening and traumatic experience. They often present in hospital Emergency Department with special and serious physical and psychological needs. It is important that these patients be treated with dignity and sensitivity regardless of age, class, disability, ethnicity, gender, life style, past and current medical history and condition, race or sexual orientation. Medical care should be given in an emotionally supportive and private environment, protecting the survivor's right to confidentiality as well as the right to participate in treatment decisions, and decisions relating to criminal justice outcomes.
Above all, quality health care with thorough and careful collection and maintenance of evidence is essential. The survivors should be seen promptly and not be left alone during the stay in the ED. The services of a trained Rape Crisis Advocate should be offered to the survivors to provide calm, consistent, knowledgeable support and to enhance the efforts of ED staff.
Survivors of sexual assault need to regain control of their lives. The experience in the Emergency Department should and can facilitate the process for healing.
Adapted from Philosophy of Care statement by the New York City Task Force Against Sexual Assault, Hospital Commitee, 1991
The Violence Intervention and Treatment Program provides a range of direct services including 24/7 hot-line service, crisis and ongoing counseling, referrals and resources, and advocacy and accompaniments to survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. In addition, VITP provides crisis counseling, reimbursement assistance, and referrals to victims of any crime.
VITP also provides preventive educational services within the hospital and the larger community.