Defining patterns of genital injury from sexual assault: a review

Trauma Violence Abuse. 2007 Jul;8(3):270-80. doi: 10.1177/1524838007303194.


The forensic examination following rape has two primary purposes: to provide health care and to collect evidence. Physical injuries need treatment so that they heal without adverse consequences. The pattern of injuries also has a forensic significance in that injuries are linked to the outcome of legal proceedings. This literature review investigates the variables related to genital injury prevalence and location that are reported in a series of retrospective reviews of medical records. The author builds the case that the prevalence and location of genital injury provide only a partial description of the nature of genital trauma associated with sexual assault and suggests a multidimensional definition of genital injury pattern. Several of the cited studies indicate that new avenues of investigation, such as refined measurement strategies for injury severity and skin color, may lead to advancements in health care, forensic, and criminal justice science.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crime Victims / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Forensic Pathology
  • Genitalia, Female / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Offenses / classification*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Women's Health