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Gynaecology Care

Info for Patients

Reporting a sexual assault to An Garda Síochána

  • Any sexual assault on a man or a woman should be reported to the nearest Garda station as soon as possible after the event. 
  • It is advisable, where possible, not to eat, drink, brush teeth, use the toilet or shower or change clothes before reporting the incident to the Gardaí as valuable evidence of the assault may remain on your body. Clothes and certain samples may need to be taken for forensic purposes. 
  • The Gardaí will take relevant information and statements and, with your consent, arrange for a medical and forensic examination to take place at The Rotunda Hospital. 
  • Both men and women are seen at the Rotunda SATU. 
  • While forensic evidence can be taken up to 7 days following the alleged assault, positive results are more likely if the examination is undertaken as soon as possible after the event. 
  • A forensic medical examination is a top-to-toe physical examination, looking for and documenting injuries and taking samples that may be used as evidence in a police investigation and any subsequent prosecution. A forensic medical examination is essential for patients who wish to proceed with criminal prosecution. 
  • This examination will allow documentation and treatment of injuries related to the alleged assault, collection of forensic samples, administration of necessary medications (eg emergency contraception (‘morning after pill’), antibiotics, pain-killers, vaccinations). 
  • Advice about follow-up appointments for counselling and screening for sexually transmitted infections will also be given. 
  • A support worker from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre will usually meet the patient before and after the examination. 
  • The examination, or any part of it, will not proceed without the explicit informed consent of the patient or their guardian. A parent or guardian will have to provide written consent for examination of victims less than 18 years of age but all patients can have a family member or friend present during the examination if they wish.

Before you attend SATU

  • Once you report an incident to An Garda Síochána they will explain the procedures of investigation. 
  • If you consent to a physical and forensic examination the Gardai will arrange for this to take place as soon as possible at The Rotunda Hospital. 
  • If there is a delay in this, and depending on the nature of the alleged assault, An Garda Síochána may arrange for you to give urine and saliva samples, and possibly take some mouth swabs, prior to attending The Rotunda Hospital. You will thus be able to eat and drink before the forensic examination takes place.
  • The Gardaí will also take possession of clothing worn at the time of the alleged assault. They will arrange for you to collect a replacement set of clothes, or new clothing will be given to you following examination at the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit.
  • Forensic Medical Examiners are on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days/year and there is no charge to attend the unit.

When you attend SATU

  • You will be brought to the SATU by An Garda Síochána, and will usually meet a support worker from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, prior to the examination.
  • You will then be brought to the examination suite where you will meet a forensic medical examiner (who may be a doctor, a midwife or a nurse) and an assisting nurse. A member of An Garda Síochána will also be present.
  • Occasionally there may be other staff (doctors or nurses) present; the reason for their presence will be explained to you by the forensic examiner when you arrive.
  • The procedure and examination will be explained to you by the forensic medical examiner and you (or your parent or guardian) will be asked to sign a consent form.
  • You will then be asked some general health questions as well as specific questions relating to what happened. You will be asked to outline your memory of events. All the staff in the unit appreciate that it may be difficult for you to give all these details again, but it is important that the exact nature of events is known to ensure that appropriate physical checks can be done and forensic samples can be taken.
  • A gown will be provided for examination and your clothes may be taken by An Garda Síochána. You will usually be asked to provide a urine sample and blood tests.
  • The forensic examination will then be performed and any injuries will be documented. Relevant samples will be taken, usually including samples or hair and nails as well as swabs from intimate examination (vagina or penis). Depending on the type of assault, it may also be necessary to examine the back passage and swabs will usually be taken from this area too.


  • Our centre has bathroom and refreshment facilities and new clothes can be provided if your own clothes have been taken for forensic examination.
  • If it is required you will be offered the ‘morning after pill’ to prevent pregnancy. This should be taken as soon as possible.
  • You will also be offered an antibiotic to prevent Chlamydia (a sexually transmitted infection) and the first of a course of vaccines to prevent Hepatitis B. For that to be most effective you need to receive three vaccines in total and you will be given appointments to return to complete the course.
  • Some factors specific to the person who assaulted you, or the type of assault, may mean that you are at increased risk of acquiring HIV. Depending on these factors, you may be started on tablets to reduce this risk. You will be a given a short course of these tablets in the SATU and given a follow-up appointment in the Mater Hospital over the following few days, when it will be decided if you need to continue the medication.
  • All patients will be given follow-up appointments at the SATU to make sure they are physically recovering from the incident, for testing for infectious diseases and to complete the course of Hepatitis B vaccine. These appointments take place in the SATU, Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm and a time that suits you can usually be arranged.
  • Before you leave the SATU you will be asked for your permission for the SATU staff to contact you (by phone, text or letter) to remind you of your follow-up appointments. You will also be given some written information to take away with you, as well as a letter for your GP if you wish. Alternatively this letter can be sent by post to your GP.
  • The support worker from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre will meet you again after the examination and give you contact details for the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre for ongoing support.

Care after a sexual assault without reporting to An Garda Síochána

  • In certain cases someone who has been subject to a sexual assault may not wish to involve An Garda Síochána. While such cases will be seen at the SATU for reassurance and provision of appropriate care, there is no facility to take and store forensic specimens should the patient subsequently decide to involve the Gardaí.
  • For this reason, patients who are uncertain about proceeding with a criminal prosecution are generally advised to report to An Garda Síochána at the outset, before forensic evidence deteriorates. The statement can be withdrawn at a later date, should the person decide not to pursue the complaint.

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