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Forensic medical examination

If you are thinking about reporting to the police, you can choose to have a forensic medical examination. The examination is done to provide evidence that can:

  • verify the type of sexual assault that occurred
  • support your explanation of what took place
  • help identify the person who sexually assaulted you.

This examination is most useful within 72 hours of the rape or sexual assault. However, it can be done up to 1 week after the assault. A doctor or nurse will collect evidence. Before collecting evidence, the doctor or nurse will talk with you about the examination and give you time to ask questions about it. You have the right to say yes or no to the collection of any samples.

The doctor or nurse can collect evidence such as swabs and clothing to find DNA from the person who has assaulted you. DNA may be passed on to you via semen, saliva or touch. Blood and urine may be collected to look for drugs and/or alcohol if that has been a part of the assault. Evidence also includes detailed documentation of your injuries and photography of these injuries with your consent.

Making a decision about contacting police can be difficult. We can offer a 'just in case' forensic medical examination. Evidence is collected and stored safely until you make a decision within a 12 month period.

What happens to the forensic evidence collected during the examination?

(This information only refers to services provided by Yarrow Place)

Ifyou are 16 and over you can consent to a Forensic medical examination with Yarrow Place.

If you decide to:

  1. Ask the police to investigate your complaint…
    The police will take the evidence to the Forensic Science Centre. The scientists will examine the evidence that was collected and provide the results and a report to the police. It can take some time for this to be done.
  2. Have evidence collected and stored securely while you decide whether or not to ask the police to investigate your complaint – (‘just in case forensic examination’)…
    The evidence will be stored securely by Yarrow Place for 12 months from the date of collection. This means that you have 12 months in which the evidence will be available if you decide to ask the police to investigate your complaint.

You can contact the police at any stage after an assault, even many years later, but the evidence will only be available for 12 months from the time of collection.

Preserving forensic evidence

Sometimes people choose to delay the forensic medical examination because they have more pressing needs such as arranging childcare or needing to have a sleep.

The following information is provided to let you know what you can do to maximise the successful collection of forensic evidence when the examination is done, if there is to be a delay.

Washing/Showering

Some evidence may be lost if you shower or wash before the examination. If you can, it is better not to wash before the examination. It is very normal to want to have a shower or wash, so if you need to, try not to wash the areas that have been involved in the assault. For example, don't wash your breast if you have been 'kissed' there during the assault, or if you were anally or vaginally raped, do not wash these areas.

Toilet

If you need to urinate (‘do a wee’), press your underpants to your external genitalia (vagina or penis) before removing them and going to the toilet. If you can, try not to use your bowels (‘do a poo’) if you have been anally raped. If you do have to go, press your underpants to the anus before removing them and going to the toilet.

Clothing

Please keep the clothing worn at the time of the assault in separate paper bags and do not wash it.

What if I am in a country area and would like a forensic medical service?

If you are in a country area, this service is offered by Country Health SA at some general hospitals. Contact your local police for further details.

Other rape and sexual assault topics

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