Sexual assault victims don't need to pay for exams – but many still don't get one

About 1,400 people each year were treated in Minnesota hospitals for sexual violence from 2010 to 2014.

Thousands of Minnesotans are sexually assaulted every year. But many of the survivors – for any number of reasons, be it fear, guilt, uncertainty, or money – choose not to get medical treatment after the attack.

That's something the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault want to change.

“We want women and men to know that there are many health benefits to seeking hospital care after a sexual assault,” Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a news release Friday.

The department released a new brief on sexual violence looking at hospital-treated sexual violence. It's important to note though: It is estimated only a quarter of sexual violence victims seek hospital treatment – meaning the actual number of sexual assaults is likely much, much higher, the department says.

But both Ehlinger and the coalition are hoping more victims will see the benefits of getting treatment. There are serious physical injuries that can occur, and often serious emotional and mental impacts as well, which a trained nurse can help address.

But as writes, just because a sexual assault victim doesn't seek treatment doesn't make them wrong.

"There is no right way to feel or to heal," the site says. "Your reactions and your healing process are connected to who you are as a person. ... You deserve support. Reach out to whomever you think can be a support person to you."

If you need help, you can use this website to find services nearby. You can also call a 24/7 crisis line at 1-866-223-1111.

Younger people make up the majority of patients

About 1,400 people each year were treated in Minnesota hospitals for sexual violence from 2010 to 2014.

Of those that went to the hospital, victims aged 15 to 24 made up 43 percent of all patient visits – the two highest rates for any age group, by far. Here's the breakdown.

The group RAINN has said college-aged women (18 to 24 years old) are significantly more likely to be assaulted. Many also don’t report the assault.

Paying for a sexual assault exam

A report in February of 2016 by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault found victims face a number of barriers to getting a medical exam (sometimes called a "rape kit") after an assault – a significant one being not knowing if they have to pay for the service.

They don't.

“At the time of crisis, a rape victim needs compassionate, non-judgmental, confidential support,” said Jeanne Ronayne, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, in a news release. “It is important for victims to know they have a right to access a sexual assault examination at no cost regardless of whether they report the crime to police."

State law says the county where the crime occurred is responsible for the cost (here’s the Minnesota statute for that). But the group's report found some facilities either don’t know that, or aren’t confident telling patients that they might not have to pay for it. That can cause confusion for a patient, who may be factoring in cost when going in for an exam.

A few other findings

From 2010-2014, the rate of hospital-treated sexual violence went down a little bit overall, with the biggest drop among 15 to 19-year-olds.

The rate of sexual violence hospital patients in the Twin Cities metro was 31.8 per 100,000 people. In rural Minnesota it was 22.5 per 100,000 people. The department's report later mentions a study that found rural victims are less likely to go to hospitals.

Women made up a significantly higher proportion of victims treated at the hospitals than men.

Next Up

fire, flames

Lives saved as passerby, city workers rescue from 3 from Golden Valley fire

The Golden Valley Fire Department responded to the fire Wednesday morning.

Caribou Coffee Holiday 2020

Caribou Coffee rolls out holiday cups, menu early

The holiday season is underway at some Twin Cities stores, with a nationwide rollout planned for Nov. 5.

Malik Beasley

Charges: Timberwolves' Beasley pointed assault rifle at family on a home tour

The family was on the Parade of Homes tour when Beasley allegedly pointed the gun at them, telling them to get off his property.

aldi grocery store

Aldi is opening its first store in Winona next month

The new store is part of Aldi's $5 billion expansion across the U.S.

coronavirus, COVID-19 test

COVID-19: Minnesota planning rapid testing for young adults

Health officials are in the planning stages of launching a rapid testing option for 18 to 35 year olds.

grocery shopping

Money Gal Coaching: 15 money-saving tips you should consider

Kelly Blodgett started Money Gal Coaching after paying down nearly $50K in debt in 18 months.


Coller: What's left to watch for Vikings fans?

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

trick-or-treating, Halloween

Traditional trick-of-treating a no-no, but MDH say there are ways to make it safer

There are safer ways to do trick-or-treating than going door-to-door, health officials say.

android sanitizing station CBP

Officers seize 440 fake hand-sanitizing stations at International Falls port

If the items were legitimate, they would have been worth more than $1 million.

Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 3.13.09 PM

Jason Lewis discharged from the hospital after life-threatening hernia

Lewis will return to his home in Woodbury to recover.


U of M professor accused of sexually assaulting and stalking ex

One in every seven women has been stalked to the point of being scared for their safety, one group says.

Hundreds withstand the cold to rally for sexual assault victims at the U of M

The rally happened hours after the Gophers announced they would end their boycott.

Authorities arrest 20-year-old with $22,000 worth of marijuana wax

It's made by using lighter fluid to pull out the THC from regular marijuana.

Police are searching for a van after a sexual assault at gunpoint

The woman was walking to a restaurant when the masked man sexually assaulted her.

One survivor's story leads to more sexual assault accusations against UW-Madison student

One victim told police she was "empowered by another girl being able to tell what happened to her."

U of M has a new plan to educate students, staff to prevent sexual assaults

President Kaler says there's "much more we can do and need to do" to prevent sexual assaults.