Sexual Assault Exam (Adult)

You have had an exam today because of a sexual assault. The purpose of this exam is to:

  • Find out if you have any injuries that need treatment

  • Offer treatment to prevent gonorrhea and chlamydia infections (common sexually transmitted infections or STIs)

  • Offer treatment to prevent HIV infection and syphilis

  • Offer treatment to prevent pregnancy

  • Offer the hepatitis B vaccine series

  • Assess how you are doing emotionally and to arrange mental health support or services

  • Collect specimens to be turned over to the law enforcement agency

  • Answer any questions that you might have

After a sexual assault, it's normal to have many strong and unexpected feelings. Shock, embarrassment, fear, depression, blame, guilt, shame, and anger are all very common and normal feelings. You may also have:

  • A general sense of anxiety and fear

  • Recurring thoughts or nightmares about the event

  • Trouble sleeping or changes in appetite

  • Feelings of depression, sadness or low energy

  • Irritability or be upset easily

  • The need to stay away from activities, places, or people that remind you of the event

Home care

  • For the next few days, you may prefer to stay with family or a trusted friend. This will help give you emotional support and a sense of physical safety.

  • Sexual assault is a crime of violence. Remember that it was not your fault.

  • A sexual assault can affect your self-esteem. It can also affect relationships with partners, family members, and friends. Talking with a counselor who understands these issues may be helpful to you. Sometimes, months or years after the assault, feelings may come to the surface again. Counseling or a support group can be helpful at these times.

  • Many states require your healthcare provider to tell a law enforcement agency when they treat a victim of a violent crime. This does not mean that you have to prosecute or go to trial. But if you decide to prosecute, the evidence taken today will be useful in support of your case.

  • You may be able to be compensated for medical costs or losses that relate to the sexual assault. Talk with your counselor or the local law enforcement agency for details.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider as advised. If emotional or mental symptoms last more than 3 weeks, you may have a more serious traumatic stress reaction. Follow up with the counselor, local support group, or agency we referred you to for emotional support. There are treatments that can help.

  • If you started the hepatitis B vaccine in the emergency department, you need 2 more doses. You should get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose. The last dose should be given 4 to 6 months after the first dose.

  • If you were screened for syphilis, experts at the CDC recommend repeating the test at between 4 and 6 weeks, and then again at 3 months.

  • If you were screened for HIV, the CDC recommends that the test be repeated at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Redness, swelling or increasing pain in any injured area

  • Extreme emotional distress or thoughts of self-harm

  • Vaginal discharge or unexpected bleeding

  • Lower belly (abdominal) pain

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Pain or burning with urination

  • Symptoms get worse you have new symptoms

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