Publication - Advice and guidance

Forensic medical examination following a rape or sexual assault: information - easy read summary

Published: 10 Dec 2020

Easy read summary leaflet which sets out what people can expect during and following a forensic medical examination (FME).

12 page PDF

7.0 MB

12 page PDF

7.0 MB

Contents
Forensic medical examination following a rape or sexual assault: information - easy read summary
This leaflet is about going for a Forensic Medical Examination after a rape or sexual assault

12 page PDF

7.0 MB

This leaflet is about going for a Forensic Medical Examination after a rape or sexual assault

What is a Forensic Medical Examination?

A Forensic Medical Examination (FME) is part of the healthcare process after a rape or sexual assault.

The trained staff are there to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible.

The examination is carried out by a specially trained doctor who collects evidence that could help the police with their investigation.

A specially trained nurse should be there to support you and assist the doctor.

The staff will explain what will happen during the examination and why they are carrying this out.

What is the purpose of a forensic medical examination?

The staff are there to take care of any medical, emotional or wellbeing needs that you may have.

They will arrange any follow up healthcare or support such as:

  • Checking for and treating sexually transmitted infections

  • Emergency Contraception

  • Your emotional and wellbeing needs

They will also check for any injuries and any other effects of the assault.

It may involve an internal examination.

A special camera which provides light and magnification may be used.

The doctor will explain all of this to you carefully, so that you can decide whether or not you want to go ahead.

Where does it take place?

A specially trained police officer called a Sexual Offence Liaison Officer (SOLO) will arrange the examination.

This will take place in the nearest Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service (SARCS) to you, this is an NHS service.

The service you attend may be within or near to a hospital.

You will not be asked to go to a police station for the examination.

Things to remember

It is your choice whether or not to have an examination.

You can ask questions before deciding to go ahead.

You can choose to have someone else with you such as a friend or relative.

It is okay to feel worried or scared about the examination.

It is important to remember that this is your examination and you are in control.

You can ask the doctor to stop at any time.

An examination will usually take place no later than seven days after the assault. It may still be helpful to have an examination after this.

The doctor will be able to advise you.

What can I expect when I am at the service?

When you arrive at the service, you will be taken to a comfortable room where you can talk to the staff about what will happen next.

The staff are there to support you throughout your examination; to talk through the choices that you have and to meet your needs as far as is possible.

You can ask for a female doctor and every effort will be made to make this happen.

The examination will usually last around an hour. It might be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances.

You can expect to be at the service for 2-3 hours. Lots of this time will be spent talking through the process.

For any part of the examination to go ahead, the doctor will need your written consent.

You can choose to give your consent for some parts of the examination and not others (for example, you may not want to provide a blood sample).

You may experience some discomfort.

The examiner will be as gentle as possible and you can ask them to stop at any point during the examination.

The staff will do everything they can to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.

Things to remember:

You will not be rushed into making any decisions.

The staff will make sure you have the support you need to make a decision.

You can have a trusted family member or friend with you, before, during and after the examination if you wish.

After the examination

After the examination you will be offered some clothes and toiletries and will be able to shower if you would like to.

You'll also be offered something to eat and drink.

A nurse will be there to answer any questions you may have and arrange any follow up appointments or referrals you may require.

The nurse will help you access other support such as Rape Crisis Scotland if you would like to.

When you are ready to leave the staff will make sure you have somewhere safe to go, ideally supported by a family member or friend.

What will the police do with the evidence collected?

If the police think there is enough evidence to prove that a crime has been committed they will send a report to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

The Victim Information and Advice service, which is part of the Crown Office, will let you know if the person will be prosecuted.

They will also provide you with other important information about the case if there is to be a prosecution.

Anything else I need to know?

If you are involved in prostitution or being made by someone else to provide sexual services please come forward.

You will be taken seriously and will be supported to contact organisations that can help you if you wish.

No matter how long has passed, it is important that you speak to someone about what has happened to you to find out what help and support is available.

You can talk to a specially trained police officer, Rape Crisis Scotland or a trusted family member or friend.

Things to remember

Sexual violence is traumatic and it is very important that you try to rest and take good care of yourself in the weeks to come.

It is very common to feel isolated, angry and upset as you begin to process what has happened to you.

Support is available, you do not have to go through this alone.

This document was made in partnership with Scottish Government and People First (Scotland).

Useful helplines and websites

Rape Crisis Scotland

08088010302

Samaritans

08457 90 90 90 (24 hours)

Breathing Space

0800 83 85 87

Victim Support Scotland

0345 603 9213

Scottish Women's Aid

0800 027 1234

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Domestic Abuse Project

LGBT Health and Wellbeing

Amina - Muslim Women's Resource Centre

Survivors UK National Helpline Webchat – support for men who have been raped or sexually abused

NHS Open Road – support for men involved in prostitution

Shelter Scotland

Support for housing issues: 0808 800 4444


Contact

Email: webteam@gov.scot