Getting medical attention after an assault is very important, even if you do not have visible injuries. If you want an exam to collect evidence of rape or sexual assault, you must go to a hospital that has a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program.
Maryland offers Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFEs) at designated hospitals in each jurisdiction. A FREE exam, that includes evidence collection, medical care, and HIV exposure consultation, can be completed even if you choose not to involve the police. Please click here to view the list of Maryland’s SAFE programs
Although all hospitals do not have Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Programs, any emergency room can help provide you with medical care, including prescribing medicine to prevent HIV and sexually transmitted infections. Some hospitals will also provide medicine to prevent pregnancy but you can also buy this medicine, such as Plan B One-Step, My Way, or Next Choice One-Dose, over the counter at some pharmacies. If you are interested in locating a pharmacy near you that offers Plan B, click here. For information on accessing abortion care in Maryland, please click here.
Hospitals with SAFE Programs have specially trained Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNE) or physicians available to provide both medical attention and evidence collection services. Medical care provided during SAFE includes acute injury care and medication for the prevention of sexual transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and pregnancy. All services and medical care, including HIV prevention medication (nPEP), provided during a SAFE are FREE of cost. For more information on the evidence collection process please see “What Happens During a SAFE," below. To learn more about nPEP, please click here to view an information guide for providers and survivors, developed in conjunction with the Maryland Hospital Association (click here for the Spanish version of the guide).
Most SAFE Programs in Maryland will provide you with an exam regardless of the county or city in which you were assaulted in. However, some SAFE programs have limited services or restrictions for exams. If you are unsure of the services provided at your nearest SAFE program, please contact the hospital, if possible, before reporting for the exam.
At-home rape kits have been advertised as a means for survivors to collect evidence of a sexual assault independently of a medical professional. These kits, although aiming to address survivor comfort and safety, raise concerns that have been flagged by professionals across the country. Evidence collection is only one portion of the care provided during a SAFE: It is important the survivors of sexual assault see a medical professional after an assault, not only for evidence collection, but also to address concerns like STI or HIV contraction, pregnancy, and treatment of injuries. MCASA encourages all survivors to have evidence collected in a manner that they are comfortable with, and while at-home rape kits claim the ability to collect said evidence in private, they cannot replace the expertise and knowledge of a trained forensic nurse examiner. It's important to remember that during a formal SAFE each survivor can request to have an advocate or support person present, and they have the ability to decline any portion of the exam they are uncomfortable with.
In recent weeks, a private business has been contacting community agencies about their self-administered sexual assault forensic collection kits for sexual assault survivors. They have been making false and misleading statements about their product’s availability and usage in Maryland by misrepresenting newly passed legislation. Click here to read more about the concerns raised about these kits by the Maryland Attorney General. For more information about at-home rape kits and the conerns raised by professionals, you can view an FAQ developed by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, VALOR. Please note that this FAQ is specific to California. If you have questions related to Maryland, please email [email protected].
For a list of SAFE programs closest to you, including those with limited services, click here or click the location on the map.
For a list of SAFE programs close to Maryland college and university campuses, click here.
FNE-P: SAFE Program provides exams for survivors age 12 and younger
FNE-A: SAFE Program Provides exams for survivors 13 years of age and older
(* indicates a SAFE Program with limited services at this time)
If you are unsure of where to seek help, contact 211 or go to 211md.org to find more information on helpful resources in your area.