Questions about examinations after a past sexual assault

How can I get an appointment for an examination after a past sexual assault?

You can access our services in many ways:

  • Ask the Police to refer you
  • Ask your GP, Family Planning Clinic, or Sexual Health Clinic to refer you
  • Ask the Hospital or 24 Hour Surgery to refer you
  • Ask Oranga Tamariki (previously known as CYFs) to refer you
  • Phone the Sexual Assault Support Service Canterbury (SASSC) 24/7 support line on 03 377 5402 24
  • Ask the Safe to Talk sexual harm hotline to refer you to us
  • Phone us at the Cambridge Clinic on 03 366 0067 or complete the online callback request form (Please note this service is only monitored during office hours)

Someone else can phone if you can’t. We accept phone calls from anybody. You can phone us yourself, or any person you choose can contact us.

 

Our service spans the Canterbury and West Coast regions. If you are outside of these regions, there are similar services operating throughout New Zealand, the SAATSLink website will help you find your nearest sexual assault medical service.

 

What Services are available at an examination after a past sexual assault?
  • We can examine you and document any injuries for police reporting. This is not a forensic examination as evidence will not still be present more than seven days after the sexual assault.
  • We can screen and treat you for sexually transmitted infections
  • We can perform a pregnancy test on you
  • We can help you arrange counselling
  • We can refer you to other support services (support groups, refuges, court support services and ACC)

 

Who can you see for an examination?

At the Cambridge Clinic we will see anybody over the age of 12, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability or residential status. (For children age 12 years and under other services are available)

 

When will I have an examination after a past sexual assault?

We will arrange for you to see a doctor within normal work hours as soon as possible.

 

Where will the examination take place?

It will happen at the Cambridge Clinic on Bealey Avenue, Christchurch. Our clinic is set up specifically for providing sexual assault medical services.

 

Who will be at the examination?

There will be a specially trained doctor and sometimes nurse. Currently all of our doctors and nurses are female, but are equally comfortable dealing with both male and female victims. We can also arrange for a support person from Sexual Assault Service Canterbury (SASSC) to attend, but it is up to you if they are present during the examination. The police won’t be present during the examination.

 

Can I bring someone to the examination with me?

It is often easier to talk openly with as few people present as possible, but you’re welcome to bring someone with you for support if you wish (friend, relative or member of your whanau). If you don’t want them there during parts of the examination, that’s fine.

 

What happens at an examination after a past sexual assault?

The doctor will usually start by asking you about your medical health, treatments you are on, contraception,  and your menstrual and sexual history. The doctor needs this information so they can look after your health needs. But they won’t pass it on to the police, even if you decide to report the assault to them.

We will ask you about the details of the sexual assault, this will help the doctor decide what sort of examination they need to do.

Then if you are comfortable the doctor will examine you. Not everybody needs the same sort of examination. The doctor may suggest performing an examination of your body including your genital area. They will make sure you feel safe and keep everything as private as possible. You can stop at any time you wish.

During the examination the doctor my ask you to provide urine or blood samples and may collect genital swabs with your permission. This means the doctor can do a pregnancy test, and also test you for sexual infections (chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, syphilis).

The doctor will then treat you and and give you advice on any injuries you may have.

They will also give you information on how to get counselling and other support services.

Sometimes the doctor will suggest you come back to the Cambridge clinic for a follow up appointment or they may advise you to see your family doctor.

If you have decided to go to the police, the doctor will write a report for the police about what you have told them and what they found on examination.

 

How long will the examination take?

Examination can take different amounts of time. They are usually about one hour, but may be longer.

 

If the examination is normal does that mean a sexual assault didn't happen?

No. Many people think that there are always injuries to the genital or other areas after a sexual assault, which the doctor will be able to see. But this isn’t necessarily the case. There are several reasons why you may not have visible injuries after an assault. For example:

  • The type of contact that happened, for example touching, kissing, doesn’t cause injury.
  • Your genital tissues are stretchy and allow things to go inside without necessarily causing an injury
  • A small injury happened, but it healed by the time you were examined.

 

Does the Cambridge Clinic keep my information confidential?

If you are reporting to the police then the doctor will need to give them some information. This will include what you told the doctor about the events of the sexual assault and any relevant examination findings. The doctor will not give the police the other information, you provide about your medical health, contraception, menstrual, and sexual history. This information is only for the doctor, so they can look after your health needs.

With your permission, the Cambridge Clinic will send a brief letter to your GP.

We will keep all information about you confidential, unless you give us permission to pass information on. We are required by law to disclose information if we have serious concerns about your or somebody else’s health.