If you’ve been sexually assaulted or abused , it’s a good idea to have a health check-up — even if you decide not to report the assault to the police. You can have a check up at your GP. If you are under 18 you can see a doctor from the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service without reporting the assault to police.
Forensic medical examinations
If you decide to report the assault to police, you will be asked if you agree to evidence being collected during a medical examination to help police with their case. This is called a forensic medical examination to collect forensic evidence . Depending on your age, your parents may need to give consent.
A specially trained doctor would carry out the examination. They are called a Forensic Medical Officer. These doctors work in the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Services and look after young people under 18 years of age.
Before a forensic medical examination
- The examination would take place at a Crisis Care Unit, usually within a hospital.
- A Counsellor would be there with you and would talk to you for about 15 minutes about what will happen and the legal side of it. You may be in the Crisis Care Unit for 2 — 3 hours.
- You would be able to talk about how things have been for you since the assault and they would tell you where you could get follow-up support.
- Police from the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit or Sexual Crimes Squad would be there to get the forensic evidence from the doctor.
During a forensic medical examination
You can stop the examination at any time.
- For the exam, you would put on a gown. If you were still wearing the clothes from the assault, the doctor would arrange for you to put them in a large paper bag for evidence. The Counsellor would give you other clothes to wear afterwards.
- The Counsellor could be with you, or a friend or relative.
- First the doctor would need to hear what happened to you. This is the longest part. The doctor would need to work out which tests or examinations should be done and if you needed any medication.
- The doctor could prescribe emergency contraception if there is a risk you could be pregnant, and would also tell you what you need to do if there is any risk of infection.
- The doctor would also collect evidence for the police and write a report.
- If you needed more treatment than the doctor could give you in the Crisis Care Unit, you might go to a hospital emergency department for more care.
- At the end of the examination you could have a shower at the Crisis Care Unit and you could talk to the Counsellor again.
More about your clothes
- There may be evidence on your clothes that would help the police with their case.
- You would get your clothes back, but it might take several months and sometimes pieces might have been cut out of them.
- The Counsellor will give you clothes, shoes and toiletries if you need them.
What to expect
You would be able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any tests.
- The doctor would check your body for marks and bruises. Photographs may be taken of injuries to help show what happened to you, if the case gets to court.
- Other tests would be carried out depending on what had happened to you.
- The doctor might look at your vagina or penis.
- Swabs might be taken using long medical cotton-buds. Taking swabs means wiping areas of your skin or body to collect items for evidence or for testing.
- A swab might be taken of your mouth to collect your DNA for comparison.
- Swabs might also be taken of your vagina, penis or anus and other parts of your body.
- Sometimes the doctor might look for vaginal injuries with a special instrument called a colposcope. This magnifies the area the doctor is looking at so injuries are more easily seen.
- The doctor would arrange a follow-up appointment if any other tests are needed.