waterford rape and sexual abuse centre



Medical/Legal Information

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible, whether or not you decide to report to the Gardaí.  This is essential from the point of view of your personal health, and for forensic examination if you decide to report the crime.

Personal Health
Sexual assault or rape may produce bruising, tearing or lacerations.  The injuries may be internal, in the vagina or anus and need skilled medical help.  Sexual assault may cause a sexually transmitted infection.  You need to be tested so that the appropriate treatment can be prescribed.

Forensic Evidence

If you decide to report rape to the Gardaí, you will be asked to undergo a medical examination to collect forensic evidence, which will be used to support your case.  The Gardaí will bring you to the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit in Waterford Regional Hospital for the examination.  As well as the doctor and nurse, a trained volunteer from our Centre will be there to offer you support.  While in the Unit your related medical needs will be attended to, including emergency contraception, and an appointment will be arranged for follow-up STI screening.

You should not wash or shower before seeing a doctor, as this could destroy evidence.  You should also keep the clothes you were wearing when you were attacked.

Even if you decide not to report to the Gardaí you can contact the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (051 842157) and they will arrange for you to see a sympathetic GP.

Sexual Offences A sexual offence is a serious crime and conviction may carry a heavy prison sentence for the offender.  At present there are four categories of sexual offence: Rape, Rape under Section 4, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Sexual Assault.

Rape, Rape under Section 4 and Aggravated Sexual Assault carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.  Sexual assault carries a maximum penalty of five years.

Since 1991 a husband may be charged with a sexual offence against his wife.


Reporting a sexual offence to the Gardaí

If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, and decide to report the crime, you should contact your local Garda station.  The Gardaí will interview you briefly to find out exactly what happened.  Usually, you will be offered the option of being interviewed by a female Garda. You may be asked to make a more detailed statement as soon as possible after the forensic examination. The type of questions the Gardaí will ask will include the identity of the assailant, if you know him; a description of the assailant; where and when the incident happened; what precisely was done to you; the circumstances of the assault and if there were any witnesses.  When finished making the statement you will be asked to sign it.

While it can be distressing and embarrassing to speak about your experiences, the Gardaí have to get as detailed a statement as possible, in order to build up a case.  If you remember other details about the assault at a later stage you can contact the Gardaí to make a supplementary statement.  You are entitled to a copy of your statement and should ask the Gardaí for a copy of same.

The Gardaí will prepare a Book of Evidence, comprising of the accused’s statement, your statement, any corroborating statements and any forensic evidence which has been collected during the forensic examination or at the scene of the attack.  This is sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), who will decide if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

Because rape and sexual assault are criminal offences the State prosecutes the accused assailant and you are simply a witness for the prosecution.

It is entirely your choice whether or not to report to the Gardaí – we will support you whatever your decision.

© Martin Quigley

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