No one ever deserves to be raped
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and want information on your rights or the options available to you, including:
- Medical/police processes
- Support with reporting to the police
- Specialist and interpreter services
- Safety plans and protection orders
- Free and confidential counselling
Please contact us or the Queensland Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline 7am to 11.30pm, 7 days a week on 1800 010 120. If possible, we recommend talking to a support worker who can go over the options avaliable to survivors of recent sexual assault in detail.
If you are in immediate danger, telephone the Police (dial 000).
If you have been recently assaulted, the police and medical options available to you are summarised below.
Option 1. Report to police and access medical care
You can choose to report right away. The police will need to gather evidence of the assault, which will include a forensic medical examination (FME). They can support you to access medical care and have the FME. Police can help with protection/ safety needs. They can also support you to make a statement but you don’t have to do this right away if you’re not feeling up to it. Where possible a full forensic exam is most effective within 72 hours of the assault or within one week. If you want to report to the police, you can call 000, contact your nearest Police Station or report online here. You can ask to speak to a female officer if one is available.
Option 2. Report to police, access medical care and request no further legal action
You can choose to report to police and access medical care and forensic medical examination, but withdraw your complaint at a later time if you feel unable to proceed.
Option 3. Access medical care and forensic exam if undecided about whether to report
‘Just in Case’ reforms have recently been introduced across Queensland Health. This means that you can choose to have a forensic medical examination and ask that the medical evidence is stored (for up to 12 months) while you decide if you want to proceed with a statement to police. After 12 months, the forensic evidence will be destroyed.
Option 4. Access medical care and not report assault to police
You can choose not to report to police but still get a medical check done. Medical care can involve dealing with the physical and psychological impact of the assault, as well as any concerns about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. You can contact the Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline on 1800 010 120 for information on assistance in your area or go to a hospital emergency department. There may also be a Sexual Health Clinic, Women’s Health Centre or True Clinic near you. You can also see a general practitioner/ doctor if you don’t want a full forensic exam.
Option 5. No medical care or reporting
You can choose not to report to police or get a medical check done. This option means you will not receive medical support or legal action. If possible please seek support from a sexual assault worker on 1800 010 120 (7am-11.30pm) or BRISSC on 3391 0004 so that you can talk about any other support needs.
Option 6. Alternative Reporting Option (ARO)
ARO provides survivors with an alternative option to making a formal police complaint. Many survivors have reasons for not officially reporting the crimes of sexual assault or rape. ARO gives survivors the opportunity to provide police with the full circumstances of their assault with the option of remaining anonymous if they wish. ARO does not involve any judicial process. ARO can be an extremely useful healing strategy for the survivor and an effective investigative strategy for law enforcement agencies. Survivors can feel empowered by knowing that the information they possess and provide could be used to solve reported offences of a similar nature.
Police can use this information to:
- Assist other prosecutions against an offender; and
- Protect the community by enabling police to devise intelligence driven strategies designed to target an offender and reduce repeat offending.
Survivors have the option when completing the form to have a police officer contact you and discuss your situation.
More information about ARO can be accessed here.
Forensic Medical Examinations
- A Forensic Medical Examination is an examination which is focused on obtaining any physical evidence that police could use if they proceed with an investigation of a sexual assault. The evidence looked for includes, semen, DNA, bruising, and other evidence that indicates the use of physical force. The examination is carried out by specially trained doctors. The doctor will usually have a look at any area that may have been involved in the assault and will also include a process similar to a pap smear.
- In order to preserve evidence it is important that you try not to change your clothes. You can take a change of clothes with you to your examination where you will be asked to remove your clothes over a drop sheet that can contain any evidence such as skin or hair particles. If you have already changed your clothes please bring them with you in a paper bag. Your clothes will be sent off for forensic examination and are unlikely to be returned to you in the same condition, if at all.
- If possible, it is also important that you don’t bathe, shower, eat or drink anything before your examination, as it may interfere with important forensic evidence. If you have already done some of these things it is important to let the medical staff know.
- You can ask for a female doctor if one is available.
- You may also have a friend, relative, Sexual Assault worker or female nurse present to support you if a male doctor is examining you. It is protocol that when a medical examiner is of the opposite sex to a survivor they are examining, that a nurse/assistant of the same sex as the survivor is also present.
- You can ask the examiner to stop if you need to and you can also ask the doctor to explain all the procedures to you.
- You can request a female interpreter if this may prevent or lessen misunderstandings.
For more information please request a ‘Stepping through the process: for adult rape / sexual assault complainants entering the criminal justice system and their advocates’ from the Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence by calling 07 5591 1164.