Sexual assault is defined as sexual contact between individuals without appropriate legal consent. Rape is one form of sexual assault involving penetration, however slight, of the vaginal or anal opening. Though physical force may be used, sexual assault includes coercion into sexual contact by intimidation, threats, or fear. Local laws variably define the exact acts that constitute sexual contact and the specific populations unable to give legal consent. In general, those under the influence of drugs or alcohol, minors, and developmentally delayed individuals may be considered unable to give consent for sexual contact.
All providers must conduct a compassionate, complete history and physical examination of any patient regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation after sexual assault. The complex nexus between a provider caring for a patient and police requests for evidence must be addressed with the patient before collection. Each examination must be tailored to the specific circumstances reported by the patient rather than a one-protocol-fits-all approach.
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