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What is the Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center?

The Philadelphia Sexual Assault Response Center (PSARC) is an office-based center that provides basic medical care and forensic services to rape survivors.  PSARC is open 24 hours, 7 days a week and is staffed by trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner(s).  The center provides care in a quiet, private setting.  Some of the services provided at PSARC include forensic evidence collection, medical forensic examination, and pregnancy and disease prevention.

What is a SANE?

SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.  A SANE may also be referred to as a Forensic Examiner, a Forensic Nurse Examiner, or a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner.  These nurses have received special training and course work and have experience conducting medical forensic examinations and collecting evidence.

What is a rape kit?

A rape kit usually refers to a small cardboard box that contains all the equipment, swabs, and storage supplies needed to collect forensic evidence.  The kit allows the examiner to have everything they need for an examination at their fingertip and provides a safe and secure method of maintaining the evidence until it is analyzed in the crime lab.  It is beneficial to have all of the evidence in one box and makes documenting the transport and handling of the evidence a lot easier.

Do I need to file a police report for PSARC to evaluate me and collect evidence?

No.  We encourage survivors to report their rape to the police, but believe that the decision to file a police report is up to the survivor.  If a survivor does not want to file a police report, they may still receive care and have a medical forensic examination, and PSARC can collect any available forensic evidence.  PSARC will hold the evidence in case the survivor changes their mind and wants to talk to the police and file a police report.

What is the relationship between PSARC and the Police department?

The Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit and PSARC are co-located in the same building in the Hunting Park section of town.  This co-location is unique and allows survivors to receive services in one location.  If survivors want to report to the police, a detective will first take your report and then you will be taken down the hall to the PSARC office where your medical forensic examination will take place. 

Are the services confidential?

Yes, all services provided at PSARC are confidential.  The center is bound by the HIPAA privacy laws and will only share information with your written permission. Agencies we often share information with include, Women Organized Against Rape, the Police Department, Police Forensic Lab, and the District Attorney’s office. 

How can I pay for my care at PSARC?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) mandates by law that a victim cannot be charged for receiving rape care or be expected to pay expenses out of pocket.  The Pennsylvania Victim’s Compensation Assistance Program (VCAP) can cover the cost of care at the center.  In Pennsylvania, a person has three (3) payment options:.
  1. If you do not have insurance, VCAP will cover the cost of your care.
  2. If you have insurance but do not want to use it, we can bill VCAP.

If you have insurance and want to use it, we can bill your insurance.

How long does an examination take?

It all depends.  Everyone’s case is unique.  An examination can take up to several hours to complete, but most cases take about 2 hours.

What follow-up care will I need?

You will need to follow-up with your family doctor, gynecologist, or student health clinic within 2 weeks of being seen at PSARC.  If you do not have a family physician, you can follow-up with one of the Philadelphia Health Centers.  If you receive medicines for HIV prevention, you will be referred to a specialty HIV provider.