S.A.T.U. (Sexual Assault Treatment Unit)

Medical Care and Forensic Attention

You may be reluctant to see a doctor after a sexual assault but there are good reasons for doing so.

  • You may have internal or external injuries that need attention.
  • You need to be tested for sexually transmitted infections.
  • You may be pregnant and need to know your options.
  • You may want evidence gathered in case you decide to report the rape or sexual assault. Reporting may involve a medical and forensic examination.

If the assault has just happened and you are going for a medical and forensic examination, remember:

  • Do not wash beforehand.
  • If you were assaulted in your mouth, do not eat, drink, smoke or use toothpaste or mouthwash before samples have been taken from your mouth area.
  • Do not take drugs or alcohol beforehand.
  • Do not wash the clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault. Take them with you if you have changed or take a change of clothes with you as your clothes may be kept for examination and evidence.

You may want support when going for medical help. You could ask a friend or relative, or contact your nearest Rape Crisis Centre and a staff member will go with you.

Who should I see?

You may want to see your own family doctor (GP). However, if you are reporting or thinking about reporting the assault to the police, the doctor or nurse who examines you might need to appear in court to give the medical and forensic evidence and it is better that she or he has training and experience in this.

Your local Rape Crisis Centre can tell you about the nearest centre or doctor that specialises in medical and forensic examinations. This will be:

  • Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) if the assault happened in the Republic of Ireland,
  • PSNI Rape Crime Unit if the assault happened in Northern Ireland. The PSNI Rape Crime Unit would normally take you to the nearest Rape Suite for medical and forensic examination, an experienced doctor, if a SATU or PSNI Rape Suite is not available.

A forensic examination

In a forensic examination, a specially trained doctor or nurse will collect evidence from your body that may be used to prosecute the person who assaulted you. Doctors and nurses in Sexual Assault Treatment Units and Rape Suites are trained to collect the forensic evidence and to testify about that evidence in court, if necessary.

The doctor or nurse will also examine you to make sure that you are alright. If you have any injuries that need immediate care, you will get medical treatment before the forensic examination. If you wish, a staff member from the Rape Crisis Centre can be with you during the examination.