A Woman Was Turned Away From the Hospital After She Was Raped

She said she was told to return the following day and avoid showering, changing, or using the bathroom to preserve evidence of the assault.
A woman was reportedly turned away from the emergency room after reporting her rape because there wasn’t anyone available to treat her.
A woman was reportedly turned away from the emergency room after reporting her rape because there wasn’t anyone available to treat her. (Getty)

After a woman said she was raped and went to the hospital to request a rape kit, she was reportedly turned away from the emergency room because there wasn’t anyone available to treat her. 

The 26-year-old unnamed woman said staff at Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in Canada told her they had no specialized nurses on site late in the evening. She said she was told to return the following day and avoid showering, changing, or using the bathroom as much as possible in order to preserve evidence of the assault.

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"I just really wanted to not have to preserve my body in the state that it was in for another 12 hours," the survivor told CBC, who broke the story. "I was feeling like I was being asked to sit in that experience. Like, I could smell him on me." These exams, known as rape kits, preserve evidence following an assault in case survivors decide to pursue criminal charges against alleged perpetrators.

Has this happened to you or someone you know? Reach out to Anya at anya.zoledziowski@vice.com or DM on Twitter for Signal.

CBC reported that the woman said she was assaulted during New Brunswick Day long weekend in August after she met up with a man she’d met online. She drove herself home around 10:30 p.m. and called the Fredericton Police Force for help after she “saw all the blood.” Fredericton police confirmed to VICE News that the case is now with the RCMP, Canada’s federal police force.

She said that an officer suggested she go to the hospital for care and to have a sexual assault kit performed, and added that hospital staff would “treat this as seriously as if you had a gunshot wound,” the woman told CBC.

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When a nurse invited the woman for triage, the 26-year-old said she wanted a rape kit. The nurse then contacted a nurse with the sexual assault nurse examiner program, CBC reported. The SANE nurse told the woman no one was on call until 8 p.m. the following night, but she could go in to perform the exam in the morning. 

"No woman who has been raped should ever be told to come back tomorrow for help after finding the courage to reach out for help," she said in an interview with CBC.

She ended up leaving the hospital around 1 a.m.—shocked that hospital staff didn’t suggest she stay—and called the police again from her car. Ultimately, an officer drove down to the hospital, spoke with staff, and 30 minutes after his arrival, the victim was informed a nurse was coming in to examine her. While the woman was glad she was examined, she said it felt like an inconvenience, “as if I had made this a big deal.” 

She also told CBC News she didn’t feel as though the nurse checked in with her enough throughout the procedure. 

“This patient absolutely did everything right in this situation by presenting to the Emergency Department to request to speak to a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner,” Margaret Melanson, the hospital network’s CEO, said in a statement. “What happened to this patient was unacceptable.”

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Melanson also said the team is now reviewing protocols for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program to make sure patients in need are treated in a timely and safe way. 

The survivor said she knows there’s a shortage of nurses, but sexual assault specialists can’t be available “only sometimes.” The CEO did not say whether nationwide healthcare staff shortages were to blame.

Roxanne Paquette, the sexual assault nurse examiner program coordinator for New Brunswick, previously told CBC that the typical promised wait time for a patient requesting a sexual assault kit is one hour. She did not respond to a VICE News request for comment. 

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