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Examination After the Immediate Phase

Where the alleged assault occurred more than a week earlier and there are no signs of bruises or lacerations, there is less immediacy in conducting a pelvic examination. Time can be taken to try to find the most qualified person to document findings and the best environment in which to interview the individual. However, it may still be beneficial to photograph residual lesions properly, if this is possible.

The background should be recorded as described above, then examination and documentation of the general physical findings. In women who have delivered babies before the rape, and particularly in those who have delivered them afterwards, pathognomonic findings are not likely, although an experienced female physician can tell a considerable amount from the demeanour of a woman when she is describing her history. It may take some time before the individual is willing to discuss those aspects of the torture that he or she finds most embarrassing. Similarly, patients may wish to postpone the more intimate parts of the examination to a subsequent consultation, if time and circumstances permit.