UT Now Offering Sexual Assault Exams

Exams will be administered with zero cost to students

A Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) at SafePlace (Photo by Jana Birchum)

UT-Austin student survivors of rape and sexual assault can now request to have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) performed at the campus' University Health Services. The announcement came Monday, Nov. 16, after several months of planning and coordination with UHS, SafePlace, and UT-Austin's Voices Against Violence.

Since July – until this week – SafePlace has been the only location in Austin to offer sexual assault evidence collection done by certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). But the SafePlace South Austin campus can be difficult for students to access without a vehicle. "Our new offering of having SAFE exams at UHS is a good option," says UHS director Jamie Shutter. "Now, students who want to have an exam to collect forensic evidence can decide to go to either location for an exam."

Student survivors wishing to request an exam should still call the SafePlace hotline, Shutter says, and staff will arrange a private exam with a SANE and an advocate at UHS. While exams on campus will only be administered during UHS hours of operation (Mon.-Fri., 8am-5:30pm; Sat., 11am-3pm), SafePlace's director of community advocacy, Emily LeBlanc, clarifies that the exam just needs to be started within those hours. Of course, exams are available 24/7 at Eloise House at SafePlace.

Like SafePlace, UHS will respect student/survivor privacy. A report of an exam will not appear on medical records unless a physical injury must be documented. Even then, patient privacy is protected by state and federal law. Exams will be administered with zero cost to students. "We also know that students worry about going to the hospital and utilizing health insurance because it means that their parents will be notified. Now they don't have to," says LeBlanc. "I know of only a handful of universities across the country offering SAFEs on campus, and I don't know of any in Texas. I applaud the University of Texas and UHS for their leadership and innovation in serving sexual assault survivors in this way."

In September, the Assoc­i­ation of Amer­i­can Uni­versities released a study examining the number of sexual assaults on the campuses of prominent universities. At UT, 19% of the women undergraduates said they had experienced "non-consensual sexual contact through force or in situations when they were incapacitated and unable to consent," while 5% of undergraduate men reported the same.

Students – and all survivors – can call the SafePlace hotline, 512/267-SAFE, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more info, see www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu.

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Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE), University of Texas at Austin, SafePlace, Voices Against Violence, Jamie Shutter, Emily LeBlanc, University Health Services

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