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Sexual assault forensic exam
by TeenHelp May 3rd 2017, 01:11 PM

Sexual assault forensic exam
By Cassie (Cassado)

A sexual assault forensic exam, commonly known as a rape kit, is an exam people get after being assaulted. Though the specifics of the exam can vary by country, it often includes genital swabbing, hair combing, photography, and the treatment of any injuries sustained from the assault. This article will discuss deciding whether or not to get the exam, what activities to avoid prior to it, and the different steps taken during it.

Deciding whether or not to get the exam
Whether or not you get the exam is completely up to you. When deciding, you may benefit from identifying what the advantages and disadvantages are from your perspective. For instance, you may feel uncomfortable with a professional looking at the parts of you that have just been violated; you could find that triggering. Perhaps you are injured and want to be treated or you'd like to have evidence should you decide to report. Bear in mind that these exams can take place anywhere from shortly after the assault to seventy-two hours afterward. This is because genital injuries tend to heal quickly, and day-to-day activities such as bathing or using the restroom can remove evidence. You may benefit from writing down the advantages and disadvantages or discussing them with someone you trust.

Taking someone with you
You just experienced something no one should ever have to go through. Even if you aren't up for company, it is highly recommended to take someone with you so you have support. You can take someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. If you don't have anyone to come with you, or you don't want anyone close to you knowing, look around for abuse advocacy groups or rape crisis centers. Someone from the group or center can help you set up an appointment and accompany you there so you're not alone during this difficult time.

Activities to avoid
Before getting a sexual assault forensic examination, you should avoid activities such as bathing or showering, using the restroom, changing clothes, or brushing your hair. This can be difficult since you may feel dirty because of what happened. It is ideal to refrain from doing the things previously mentioned; however, you can still get the exam despite doing the listed activities. Activities to avoid will relate to when you get the exam. For example, avoiding using the restroom is unnecessary if you choose to get the exam 72 hours afterwards.

Procedures
Before the exam, the doctor will most likely ask about your medical history to get an idea of how to treat you should you have injuries that need to be treated. First, you will need to remove your clothes and they will be kept as evidence. Procedures such as mouth, genital, and anal swabbing can be done to test for DNA. The doctor may ask to photograph your body to record any injuries or other trauma sustained to your body such as scratching or bruising. Your hair may be combed through and DNA could be taken from your fingernails as well. Remember that you can ask to stop or pause the exam whenever you need to. Many centers will provide you with privacy to shower after the exam.

What you've been through may be reported, though that depends on where you live and how old you are. You can discuss the law of reporting with your doctor.

After your appointment, your doctor might schedule a follow-up appointment or they could give you referrals to counselors. If you would like additional help, don't hesitate to ask. Here is a list of hotlines you may benefit from using.

Sexual assault is horrific to experience and difficult to deal with. You've just gone through a traumatic experience, so be patient with yourself. Take it one day or one hour at a time and seek help if you feel ready to.
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