skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 204422 Find in a Library
Title: Medical Examinations of Sexual Assault Victims: Forensic Use and Relevance
Journal: Judicial Officers' Bulletin  Volume:15  Issue:8  Dated:September 2003  Pages:65-66,72
Author(s): Jean Edwards
Date Published: September 2003
Page Count: 3
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: This article provides information relevant to the following important issues regarding sexual assault medical examinations: why there are frequently no, or only minor, injuries from the alleged assault and why children who have accurately described penetration often have no medical injuries that are consistent with penetration.
Abstract: The findings from a medical examination performed fairly soon after an alleged sexual assault may be very important forensically or may be virtually irrelevant in contributing to an assessment of what occurred in the incident at issue. Consensual sexual intercourse can produce genital injuries if it is the woman's first act of intercourse, if it occurs after a long period of abstinence, or if there are anatomical difficulties. Nonconsensual sexual intercourse may leave no evidence of trauma to substantiate the claim of sexual assault. The absence or presence of semen and the absence or presence of trauma constitute only a small part of the evidence in a sexual assault case. This article provides information on the circumstances that may produce various types of genital injuries to adults in both either consensual or nonconsensual sexual activity. The author states as a general rule that the genital area can be free of injury whether or not sexual intercourse is consensual or nonconsensual. Physical injuries to other parts of the alleged victim's body may, therefore, be more significant. Still, physical injuries may be minor if the victim complies under the threat of harm or death. On the other hand, resistance may result in injuries to the inside of the thighs or injuries on the limbs that result from restraint. The article lists various circumstances that tend to lead to substantial signs of injury in adults. Since adolescent or postpubertal children may be involved in sexual assault that resembles adult sexual assault, the information on adult injuries applies also to children. The perpetrators of sexual assault against prepubertal children, however, tends to function in a different way. They often use the body of the child as a masturbatory object. It is important that the actual words used by the child be considered in order to understand what they are describing. Examples of imprecise language by children in describing sexual contact are offered in this article. Children have a very good blood supply throughout their bodies, so injuries will heal within 24-48 hours of their infliction.
Main Term(s): Foreign courts
Index Term(s): Medical evaluation; New South Wales; Rules of evidence; Sexual assault victims
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.