BACKGROUND: It is estimated that only 15-20% of women who have been sexually assaulted report to police and therefore the real incidence of sexual assault in males and females is unknown. Once reported, acutte cases of sexual assault (within 72 hours of the allegation) may undergo a forensic medical examination to document injuries, collect forensic specimens and provide an opinion to be used by the criminal justice system. OBJECTIVE: This article outlines the process of a forensic medical examination as well as providing a management flowchart for medical practitioners who are caring for a victim of sexual assault who does not wish to report to police. DISCUSSION: Dealing with a sexual assault case is easier and more efficient when the treating doctor has a good understanding of the issues involved in adult sexual assault and how to obtain crisis care for the victim. Early management of a victim of sexual assault, regardless of whether they want to report to police, is important for minimising associated risks (sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, psychological sequelae), and documentary injuries and obtaining forensic specimens.
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