Your rights after a sexual assault

Getting medical help

It is usually your choice whether you get medical help.

Going to the hospital or doctor does not always mean that you will end up going to court against the person who sexually assaulted you.

NSW Rape Crisis and NSW Health Department Sexual Assault Services can help people after sexual assault. You can talk to a counsellor at NSW Rape Crisis, 24 hours a day. You can also contact your local hospital. You can go to Sexual Assault Services even if you don’t want to go to Police.

NSW Health Department Sexual Assault Services are based in Community Health Centres or hospitals across NSW. All services assist people who have experienced sexual assault, whether recently or some time ago. See Contacts for contact information.

What will a Sexual Assault Service do?

  • Help you speak to a counsellor;
  • Ask if you want to see a doctor;
  • Carry out a medical examination– including sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy tests if needed;
  • Carry out a forensic examination if the sexual assault was very recent (usually within the last 5 days for adults or 72 hours for children);
  • Help you access the medical care you need including information on the morning after pill, abortion and follow up medical tests;
  • Help you talk to police;
  • Refer you for support and/or continuing counselling after this initial reporting process is over;
  • Refer you to get legal advice;
  • Keep a record of what happened to you.

Why is getting medical help important?

Seeking medical help is important because:

  • You can access health checks, pregnancy tests and treatment of any injuries;
  • They can refer you to support services to help you heal psychologically as well as physically;
  • Medical evidence can help a court in finding the perpetrator guilt

Sexual Assault Services are free and confidential services. You do not need to pay to use them and you do not need to tell anyone about going there unless the perpetrator is charged and prosecuted. See ‘Talking to someone‘ for information on keeping your records confidential in the event of a criminal trial.

Harini’s Story: ‘My husband became more violent after we came to Australia. He started to hit me more and to call me names. I thought it was the stress of being in a new country but then he started to force me to have sex and sometimes do things to him when I didn’t want to. A friend at my English class noticed I was upset one day and I told her about my problems and she told me about calling an Interpreter to help me speak in my own language about it with a counsellor. They put me on to the sexual assault service nearby and I was given the confidence to go and meet them.’

What is a forensic examination?

A forensic examination is different from a medical check-up. It is sometimes known as a Rape Kit and officially called a SAIK. The doctor will write down what happened and describe any injuries and any distress you are showing. They may test for DNA from sperm or saliva using cotton buds that are wiped in your mouth, vagina, anus or on your skin, if relevant. They might take photos of any injuries you have. The doctor might also need a blood sample from you and take any clothes you were wearing for testing too.

You can request a female doctor but if this is not possible, (and it often is not possible particularly in rural/regional areas) they will have a female worker stay with you while the doctor does the examination. You can request a female support person be present if no other female worker is available at the time.

There is a form to sign in the SAIK which says you allow the information to be released to the police. You do not have to sign it. If you are a child, the sexual assault counsellors have a duty to report to Family and Community Services, which may result in a police investigation.


A blood test and urine sample need to be taken as soon as possible if you think a person has given you drugs – legal or illegal – before the sexual assault. Tell the police or sexual assault service and make sure the tests are done. The drugs may be out of your system if you wait too long, making it harder to get any evidence.

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