Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE)
The following is a description of the Sexual Assault Forensics Exam (SAFE), which can be performed by a medical professional within 84 hours of a sexual assault. The purpose of SAFE is to preserve physical evidence of the sexual assault that can be helpful in a criminal prosecution and is also helpful for campus disciplinary action. SAFE can be administered at most Portland area hospitals.
The exam is designed to collect physical and forensic evidence. The medical provider begins SAFE by having the survivor undress and trace evidence is collected from clothing worn by the survivor. Oral evidence is collected by swabbing the survivor’s saliva. Hair (head and public) samples are taken. A special lamp is used to examine for the presence of fluids on the body of the survivor. The survivor is also examined for fluids by a vaginal and cervical swabbing. Additional evidence from rectum is collect when appropriate and notes are taken of any bruising, bite marks, hickeys, etc.
This exam can be very lengthy and invasive, which may be uncomfortable for the survivor. The survivor has the right to have an advocate present for support during the SAFE if they choose. It is also important for the survivor to remember that SAFE is a medical exam necessary to procure evidence of the sexual assault.