Medical evaluation for suspected sexual abuse (1680)

Key points below

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is any sexual contact with a child under the age of 18 years old. It may be:

Most of the time, the abuser is someone the child knows. By law, doctors and nurses must report it to the police when it happens. It is a crime.

Why does my child need a medical exam?

It is important for your child’s health and well-being that their body be checked. Sexual abuse can sometimes cause injuries or other medical problems. Some children feel that their bodies have been damaged by sexual abuse. It can be very helpful for them to hear from a health care provider that their body is healthy and normal or will heal.

Many times, sexual abuse does not leave physical findings. Sometimes injuries heal so well that they can no longer be seen. In most cases, the exam is normal. This does not mean that sexual abuse did not occur. The exam is not meant to prove or disprove what your child has said. Sometimes, exam findings are used as evidence in court.

What happens during the exam?

The medical exam is done in a very child-friendly way. Every child is unique and the staff work hard to help put your child at ease.

Some children want to know everything that is going to happen during the exam. Others would rather be distracted with a book or activity. If your child wants, an advocate or protective parent or caregiver is welcome in the exam room to provide support.

What happens after the exam?

How do I take care of my child at home after the exam?


Call your child's doctor, nurse, or clinic if you have any questions or concerns or if your child has special health care needs that were not covered by this information.