What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual Assault is a legal term that refers to a wide range of sexual offenses and is used to describe any sexual act or activity that that occurs without explicit consent of the victim
Forms of sexual assault include, but are not limited to:
- Attempted rape
- Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
- Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
- Penetration of the victim’s body (also known as rape)
- Molestation, child abuse, or incest
It is a common misconception that sexual assault requires the involvement of physical force or that the victim must sustain visible injuries. This is not the case. The use of coercion, drugs, alcohol, threats, or manipulation to compel sexual acts is still considered sexual assault.
What is Consent?
Consent is defined as the voluntary agreement to engage in a particular action or activity, made by individuals who possess both the freedom and capacity to make such a choice.
It is NOT considered consent if you or someone else involved in the situation:
- Was asleep, unconscious, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise unable to make a conscious and informed choice.
- Felt pressured, manipulated, deceived, or coerced into saying yes against their will.
- Did not meet the legal age requirement to provide consent.
- Lacked the capacity to choose
It’s crucial to recognize that consent is an ongoing and revocable agreement. Anyone involved has the right to withdraw their consent at any point during a sexual encounter, including during sex or any sexual activity. Consent for a specific action in the past does not imply consent for the same action in the future. Consent must always be freely given, informed, and enthusiastic.
Who Commits Sexual Assault?
There are no restrictions on who can commit sexual assault. Perpetrators of sexual assault may be strangers, but in roughly 4 out of 5 cases, they are individuals already familiar to the victim. This includes partners, ex-partners, friends, colleagues, and even family members. It’s essential to recognize that sexual assault can occur within a range of relationships, not solely as a result of stranger-perpetrated incidents.
What is a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination?
A Sexual Assault Forensic Examination, conducted by a certified Forensic Nurse trained in performing such examinations for sexual assault victims, is a comprehensive medical assessment. This examination includes:
- Consent and Assent: The patient provides consent and maintains ongoing assent throughout the examination.
- Medical History and Assault Details: The patient provides their medical history and details of the assault, allowing the nurse to determine the necessary medical care.
- Head-to-Toe Assessment: This involves a thorough nursing assessment, including vital signs. It encompasses measuring and documenting any signs or symptoms of strangulation that the patient may have or currently experience.
- Evidence Collection: With the patient’s consent, the nurse collects samples by swabbing various areas of the body, preserves clothing, and may collect urine and/or blood samples.
- Medication and Testing: The nurse may offer medication to prevent pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections, and testing for these may be performed, with the order depending on patient preference and medical judgment. The patient is educated on the reasons for the chosen order.
- Photo Documentation: If the patient consents, the nurse takes photo documentation of the patient’s condition, clothing, and any injuries.
- ER Referral Assessment: The nurse determines if the patient should be referred to the emergency room to be seen by a physician.
- Resource and Counseling Referrals: The nurse provides information on where to find counseling, further medical assistance if needed, and additional resources for safety and other needs. Encouragement is given for a follow-up appointment to review lab results, document injury progression, and ensure the patient’s general well-being.
Note: Photographic documentation is captured using the SDFI system and stored with AES 256 Bit Encryption along with Passphrase Protection. It’s essential to understand that these photographs are not immediately shared with ANYONE. All photographs are treated as evidence and can only be released to Law Enforcement or any other party with a valid subpoena issued by a judge. We prioritize and take your privacy extremely seriously, and every precaution is taken to ensure the security and confidentiality of this sensitive information.