We offer a dedicated children’s service for children up to their 18th birthday who have been raped or sexually assaulted.
Non-recent assaults are classified as anything that has happened more than 10 days ago. In Devon including Torbay and Plymouth, these are dealt with at our specialist paediatric service in Exeter. In Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly, these cases are seen at our Truro SARC. The children’s service ensure that every referral for a child or young person is reviewed by the clinical team, to make sure that all health needs are addressed. They consider a broad range of support services for children and ensure appropriate onward referrals to relevant services, including the Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) service.
Children who have experienced recent cases of sexual assault (10 days or less ago) in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are cared for at our facility in Exeter. They will be given immediate medical care, a forensic medical assessment, emergency contraception if required, and support and advice about what to do next. We can also arrange for an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (ISVA) to support you with any police investigation.
What happens in a forensic medical assessment?
A forensic medical assessment would be carried out by one of our specially trained doctors. They work a lot with children and have had special training in caring for children who have been sexually assaulted. The assessment may include:
- Talking about the child’s health and background
- Checking the child’s ears, nose and throat, listening to their heart and lungs and examining their tummy
- Checking for any injuries on the body surfaces as well as the genital and anal area (external examination only)
- Discussing the risk of sexually transmitted infections and arranging testing
- With girls, considering if emergency contraception (“the morning after pill”) is needed. This can be provided during the assessment
- Collecting forensic samples
- Providing reassurance to children/young people and their families
- Providing onward referrals to support agencies, including the ISVA service
Many people worry about children having a forensic medical assessment; however it can be a very positive experience that aids the recovery process. It allows children and their families to discuss any concerns they have and access any medical care they may need.
We understand that children and their families may feel nervous about the assessment so we allow time for them to go at their own pace, providing a safe and supportive environment. The assessment can be stopped at any point and restarted later.
The police must be involved in any cases of child sexual assault. If you are worried about contacting the police, we can do this for you and provide support through the process.
All of the feedback that our children’s service receives is incredibly positive. We have included some below that may encourage you to get in touch.
He seems so much more relaxed since seeing you. It was very reassuring and we feel relieved. Thank you so much for your support on the day and your follow up – Mother 10 year old male.
She felt validated. The process was positive and we were very happy. There was no pressure. You were both kind and made us feel safe. No one spoke down to her. You listened and understood and she felt able to make decisions.
I thought you were brilliant. It couldn’t have been done more thoroughly or with more care – Parents 6 year old female.
We are really glad that we reported it and really glad that we were able to bring the girls to you for an assessment. It was reassuring and we know we have done the right thing after speaking to you – Mother of twins.
He seems so much more relaxed since seeing you. It was very reassuring and we are relieved.
You guys are brilliant and we felt so much better coming out of there. Thank you. We feel so much better now – Mother 3 year old female.
It was as easy as it could have been under the circumstances. She was fine afterwards. She was put at ease and the doctors were brilliant.
Everyone was so lovely and so kind. I can’t believe that such a hard situation was made ok for her – Mother 15 year old female.
You were all amazing. We could not have asked for it to go any better. My daughter thought you were wonderful. It was so important for us to be able to speak to people like you. So supportive, thoughtful and helpful. It is so reassuring to be surrounded by people like you. People like you are needed to make such difficult times as easy to deal with as possible. Thank you for being there for us – Mother 15 year old female.