HEART Project (Sexual Violence Recovery)

Promoting Health, Empowerment and Recovery from Trauma

  • 100% Confidential – Your identity and experience are between you and your health practitioner.
  • Reporting is Optional – You may receive medical care without reporting the incident to the police and/or Title IX.
  • Forensic Evidence Collection is Optional – You can receive medical care without forensic evidence collection.
  • If you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention, call 911.

If you have experienced sexual violence, the HEART project is here to help.

"The trauma is yours and so is the recovery. You decide when and how to seek help."

HEART seeks to assist undergraduate and graduate students when they experience sexual violence of any kind. Sexual violence includes not only rape, but also attempted rape, fondling or unwanted sexual touching, and/or being forced to perform a sexual act such as oral sex. The incident could have happened at anytime and anywhere – you can choose to seek help or report an incident at any time, even if the incident took place off campus.

"HEART is here to help you recover, but it's always on your terms."

HEART offers four arms of support and care. You can select to utilize one, all or none — the choice is yours.

There is no cost for services offered by HEART.

▼   (Forensic) Medical Care
  • If you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention, call 911.
  • If you are not in immediate danger or in need of emergency services, you may choose to be seen by a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) at the USA Student Health Center where HEART is located.
      • A SANE is a nurse or nurse practitioner with specialized training in treating patients who have experienced sexual assault. The SANE will provide immediate care by assessing for injuries and discussing additional options for your next steps in care. If you decide, you may choose (or not) to have a sexual assault evidence kit (SAEK) performed and evidence collected as part of your care.
        *All SANEs performing services as part of HEART are certified by the International Association of Forensic Nurses.
  • HEART offers the following medical care options:
    • Sexual assault health exam only
      • Sexual assault health exams will be offered by certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) at the Student Health Center during normal hours of operation.
        • In addition to a physical exam, you will receive STI risk assessment, and be offered prophylactic treatment, as indicated.  In addition, pregnancy risk assessment and emergency contraception will be offered, if indicated. Walk-in appointments are available, or you can schedule an appointment.

          Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
          Tuesday-Thursday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
          Closed Saturday, Sunday and school holidays

    • Sexual assault health exam with forensic evidence collection
      • If you choose, a sexual assault evidence collection kit (SAEK) may be also performed by a certified SANE during your sexual assault health exam. Collection of the SAEK includes talking about the assault to the extent needed to perform the exam and collect specimens, assessing and documenting injuries including photo-documentation, swabbing the skin, collecting clothing, and taking blood and urine samples. As with the sexual assault health exam only, walk-in appointments are available, or you can schedule an appointment.

        Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
        Tuesday-Thursday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
        Closed Saturday, Sunday and school holidays

      • If you would like to have a SAEK performed during your sexual assault health exam:
        • Seek care as soon as possible after the assault. Some medical interventions following sexual assault are time sensitive. Whether you seek care at an emergency facility or the Student Health Center, we encourage you to reach out as soon as possible. We are here to help.
        • To the extent possible, avoid changing your clothes (including any undergarments), removing feminine hygiene products (such as pads or tampons), showering, brushing your teeth, drinking liquids, or eating food, as these steps may remove potential evidence.
          • Even if you have already removed clothes, showered, etc., evidence may still be present and you can still choose to have a SAEK performed during your health exam.
      • You are in complete control of which aspects of the SAEK are performed. You can also choose to begin the exam and then stop at any time. Our SANEs are dedicated to respecting your decisions about your healthcare and your body.
▼   Advocacy

Whatever the situation or circumstances, you will have an advocate on your side to guide you through resolution and recovery. Advocates provide emotional support and resources, attend meetings and hearings, and assist in coordinating services (i.e., filing a police report, medical treatment, academic assistance, alternate housing assignment, counseling services, etc.). 

Upon obtaining care from HEART at the Student Health Center, a patient liaison will contact an advocate who will meet you at the Student Health Center to provide support and help you navigate next steps in your recovery.

You can also contact a support advocate without seeking care at the Student Health Center. Advocates are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week by calling (251) 460-7151 (during regular office hours) or (251) 341-9884 (after office hours).

▼   Law Enforcement

Upon obtaining care from HEART at the Student Health Center, you will be offered the option of reporting your experience to law enforcement. Filing a report with the police is optional. If you choose to report to police, a HEART team member will assist you in contacting the USA Police or contact the USA Police on your behalf with your permission. An officer trained in responding to reports of sexual assault will respond and meet with you at the Student Health Center, if you wish. An advocate will be with you each step of the way and available to offer support while you file a police report.

You can also choose to file a report with law enforcement without seeking care at the Student Health Center by either calling the USA Police at (251) 460-6312 or by using the LiveSafe app. Download the app.

If the incident occurred off campus, you can file a report with the Mobile Police Department. USA Police can assist you in filing a report with the Mobile Police Department, even if the assault occurred off campus.

Remember, advocates and other members of HEART are available to assist you in filing a report with law enforcement and navigating the legal process.

▼   University Counseling and Testing

Many people who experience incidents of sexual violence can benefit from talking to a professional to process their thoughts and feelings and move forward with recovery. Counselors trained in working with students who have experienced sexual violence are currently available to serve students and are providing telephone consultations and video counseling sessions using the ZOOM platform during business hours, 8am – 5pm, Monday – Friday. Call 251-460-7051 to schedule an appointment.

National Resources

The Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). The website has an online chat feature if you prefer that to a phone call.  The National Sexual Assault Online hotline (website also has a Chat option)

Other emergency mental health resources can be found here. 

This website was produced by the University of South Alabama under 2020-V3-GX-0164, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.