Disclosure of sexual violence
Identifying and managing adult sexual assault and rape
- By: Glaucia Teixeira, Kieran M Kennedy
Sexual violence is common, with about one in every four people experiencing some form of sexual abuse.12 It can have substantial health consequences, such as sexually transmitted infections (including HIV and hepatitis B), post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, unintended pregnancy, and suicide.3 Despite these health consequences, and recommendations that medical students should receive instruction on sexual violence,4567 the topic is not always covered in depth in undergraduate training.8 We aim to give students an overview of the care of adult patients who disclose sexual violence.
There are several types of sexual violence. Definitions vary according to legal jurisdiction; however, for the purposes of clinical practice the term “rape” is generally used when there is non-consensual penetration of a bodily orifice—that is, the mouth, anus, or vagina—by the penis. “Sexual assault” is the term used to describe an incident whereby one person touches another in a