Protocols for managing the victims of sexual assault
As doctors, we will undoubted meet people who have been sexually assaulted and this requires specialist care. Emma Wall and Jan Welch explain how to manage victims of rape
- By: Emma Wall, Jan Welch
Rape is common and victims may present in any number of medical settings (box 1). As well as victims' need for good medical care, evidence collection should be considered so that rapists can be identified and convicted. Throughout most of the United Kingdom, services for people who have been sexually assaulted are uncoordinated, of poor quality, and conviction rates are low. This is beginning to change as more specialist sexual assault referral centres are developed, which can provide care tailored to individual needs and concerns (box 2).
The attitudes of doctors have been found strongly to influence outcomes,8 indicating that the management of those who have been raped should be covered during medical training. A non-judgmental stance is essential with optimal treatment enabling the victim to regain control and be involved in decisions regarding their care. By considering forensic, medical, and psychosocial aspects of care separately, the care of complainants