What is a SAFE Center?
A SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination) Center is a safe place for victims to go to have evidence collected, and to get medical care, information and clarification, support and advocacy after a sexual assault. The goal of a SAFE Center is to provide a high quality forensic examination along with medical care and treatment, while preserving the necessary evidence that will lead to the successful prosecution of sexual perpetrators. Careful collection, documentation and preservation of forensic evidence are crucial in order to enable the District Attorney to successfully prosecute rapists. Most SAFE Centers have showers, toiletries, and simple amenities to help the victim feel more comfortable and supported.
In Monroe County, New York, a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Center (SAFE Center) is located in the emergency department at Strong Memorial Hospital, 601 Elmwood Ave., Rochester, New York.
In Orleans County, New York, there is a SAFE Center in the emergency department of Medina Memorial Hospital, 200 Ohio St., Medina, New York.
When should I go to the SAFE Center?
If you have been sexually assaulted within the past 96 hours (four days) and are considering reporting it to the police, you should go to the nearest SAFE Center. The sooner evidence is collected, the better chance there is of getting supporting documentation that will help the prosecution of the case.
Who will examine me?
Specially trained nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants will provide the medical and forensic examination. These examiners have had extensive training and use state of the art equipment and documentation tools to gather the best evidence possible.
Who will be there with me?
At your request, a RESTORE advocate can be with you during the exam to help answer questions, clarify procedures and offer support and comfort during this difficult time. Family members can also be there to offer support.
Does this mean I have to report the rape to the police?
No. You never have to report a rape to the police, unless it involves the mandates of child sexual abuse. You can have the evidence collected at the SAFE Center and then take up to 30 days to decide whether or not to contact the police. The hospital will hold the evidence during this time.
Will the police be at the SAFE Center?
Not necessarily. If you have reported the rape to the police, an officer may want to speak with you while you are waiting for the examination to begin. If you have not contacted the police, an officer won't be there.
What should I expect?
The forensic examination is a comprehensive view of the body to identify where there may be evidence to be collected. For example, loose hairs, fibers from clothes, semen, bruises, bite marks and scratches will be noted or collected. A vaginal exam is necessary to determine if there has been any internal trauma.
Will I get medications?
Medical care includes an assessment of possible risk and exposure to sexually transmitted diseases and any injuries. Medications may be necessary to avoid getting a sexually transmitted disease. If your assault occurred within the last 120 hours (five days), you may also want to get emergency contraception to reduce your risk of getting pregnant.
How do I get to the SAFE Center?
You can drive yourself to the SAFE Center, call for an ambulance, or have a friend or family member drive you.
Call the RESTORE Hotline for more information or to discuss whether you should go to a SAFE Center. Counselors are available to answer questions and offer support to help you make healthy decisions after a sexual assault!
Monroe County: (585) 546-2777
Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Wyoming: 1-800-527-1757
Elsewhere in the US: 1-800-656-4673