Medical Care

If you have experienced sexual or gender-based harassment, you have options. You may choose any combinations of the options listed in this section that you feel is right for you.

ACCESS MEDICAL & SAFETY OPTIONS 

If you believe you have experienced sexual harassment, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and other forms of interpersonal violence that can result in medical and safety issues, you may consider getting medical care. Even if you don’t identify any urgent medical needs, you may be injured or at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or becoming pregnant. You deserve immediate care, and members of the Harvard community have several on- and off-campus options:

Accessing local hospital Emergency Department (ED): Hospitals in the local  area provide a range of care pertaining to: treating violence-related injuries, forensic evidence collection, screening for, preventing and treating infection and HIV, and pregnancy prevention services. If you would like to access a local ED, you can:

• Choose to present at an ED on your own or with someone you trust.

• Contact OSAPR, which will provide transportation and/or staff member accompaniment to an area hospital of your choice. Call OSAPR’s 24-hour hotline at 617-495-9100.

Going to Harvard University Health Services: If you have an urgent health problem, physical or emotional, that requires prompt attention but is not a life-threatening emergency, you may seek care and discuss further options with Harvard University Health Services:

• Visit HUHS Urgent Care, open 24 hours a day; Smith Campus Center 3rd Floor

• Note that HUPD will transport you to HUHS; you do not need to share with HUPD the reason you need to seek medical attention. You can call HUPD at 617-495-1212.

Talking with the Harvard University Police Department:  If you are not currently in a safe place or if you have an emergency, you can call HUPD at 617-495-1212. Community members are encouraged to store HUPD in their cell phone contacts.

QUESTIONS & TIMELINES

If you have questions about your medical options, you can discuss them with the following resources:

• OSAPR’s 24-hour hotline, 617-495-9100

• Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), 800-841-8371

Timelines to keep in mind if you are thinking about seeking medical care:

• If you suspect that you were given any type of drug, testing should be administered as soon as possible as different drugs will be detected for different periods of time after they have been ingested. Similarly, clinicians can best retrieve medical evidence within only a few days after an assault

• If you think you would like to have forensic and/or DNA evidence from a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE), it’s important that you seek services at a qualifying hospital emergency department as soon as possible within 120 hours, or 5 days

• SANEs are skilled in performing exams and collecting evidence from patients who may have experienced a sexual assault. They also can help you address pregnancy, HIV, and related concerns.

• To prevent pregnancy, start emergency contraception within 72 hours of the assault

• HIV emergency post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) should be started as soon as possible for maximum effectiveness, and must be started within 72 hours of the potential exposure. You can access this at no charge through SANE services.

• For a full list of hospitals with SANE nurses, visit the Boston Region Designated Hospitals on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services website.

GUIDELINES FOR EVIDENCE PRESERVATION

• Though it is understandable that you may wish to, try not bathe, douche, smoke, change your clothes or clean the area where you were assaulted before evidence is collected

• Save copies of email messages, text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, pictures, logs, or any other documents that could be helpful in an investigation of the incident

• Write down everything you can remember about the other person, including a physical description, the use of force or threats, if applicable, and any information you remember concerning the person’s identity

• Both HUPD and HUHS can advise and assist you in the preservation of evidence. Even if you do not believe you want to pursue criminal action, it can be helpful to retain evidence in case you want it available later

 

Keep your options open. Medical professionals can collect and preserve physical evidence. It is up to you whether, when, and with whom you share that evidence.