Injury in adult female sexual assault complainants and related factors

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2009 Feb;142(2):149-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2008.10.005. Epub 2008 Dec 2.


Objective: This study was undertaken to document physical injuries and ascertain associated variables in female complainants of sexual assault.

Study design: 164 cases of sexual assault between 2002 and 2006 in Belfast were included. 162 women consented to body examination and 153 to genital examination. Data for the study were obtained from the contemporaneous notes of a forensic doctor who examined the victims.

Results: Of 164 females, 44% were less than 20 years of age, mean age was 24.2, range 13-74 years; two-thirds reported alcohol consumption prior to assault. Non-genital (body) injury was observed in 61%, genital injury in 39%, both in 20% and 18% had no injury. Body injury was associated with time to examination (OR=4.0, p<0.01), alcohol intake prior to assault (OR=3.33, p<0.001), assault occurring outdoors (OR=3.45, p<0.01), previous sexual intercourse (OR=3.19, p<0.01) and genital injury (OR=2.24, p<0.05). Genital injury was related to acquaintance assault (OR=2.33, p<0.05), time to examination (OR=3.70, p<0.05), reported virgin status (OR=3.03, p<0.01) and absence of hormonal contraception (OR=2.04, p<0.10).

Conclusion: Almost half the victims of sexual assault were less than 20 years old and injury was detected in over 80%. Time to examination and prior sexual experience were related to genital and body injury. Assault occurring outdoors and alcohol intake were associated with body injury. Genital injury was more frequent in acquaintance assault and victims not using hormonal contraception. Young females drinking alcohol are at a very high risk for sexual assault.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Genitalia, Female / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Northern Ireland / epidemiology
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult