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What is a sexual assault exam?

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A sexual assault exam is a medical procedure conducted after a sexual assault of a woman, a man, or a child. The exam includes diagnosing and treating injuries, infections, and other problems resulting from the assault. A sexual assault exam also involves collecting DNA and other legal evidence of the assault.

A sexual assault exam is a specialized examination of your physical and psychological condition after you have experienced a sexual assault. It can help you recover more quickly from physical and psychological trauma after a sexual assault. It will also preserve the evidence that the court system may need to convict the perpetrator. 

You may request to have a sexual assault exam, or the police may ask you to have one if you report a sexual assault. However, having a sexual assault exam does not mean that you will have to press charges or testify in a case against the person who assaulted you. 

Every U.S. state must offer sexual assault exams to people who experience sexual violence, regardless of whether they want to report or prosecute the crime. The primary goal of the exam is to preserve your health and help you recover after an assault.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 2, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

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Medical References

  1. A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations. U.S. Department of Justice. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ovw/241903.pdf.
  2. Preserving and Collecting Forensic Evidence. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/aftermath-of-sexual-assault/preserving-and-collecting-forensic-....
  3. Receiving Medical Attention. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/aftermath-of-sexual-assault/receiving-medical-attention.
  4. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program: Frequently Asked Questions. Attorney General of Texas. https://www.oag.state.tx.us/victims/sane.shtml#3.
  5. What is a Rape Kit? Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. http://www.rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-recovery/rape-kit.

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