If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, it is important for survivors to get medical attention as soon as possible. This does not mean you have to report the assault to the Gardai. Medical attention is to ensure you are physically ok.
You may have bruises, scratches, lacerations and some possible internal damage from the rape or sexual assault. There is also the possibility of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection. It is important to get medical attention to rule out these possibilities.
If you decide to report the assault to the Gardai, they will ask you to undergo an examination to collect forensic evidence which will be used to support your case. Forensic evidence can stay within the body for 7 days, the gardai will help you get to a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit as soon as possible to get the best evidence they can. However, if you have passed the 7 day threshold SATU will see you to begin the process and give you medical attention.
However, if you are 18 years of age you can still attend a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) even if you have not decided to report. The SATU team can hold your forensic evidence for up to 1 year while you take your time to decide if you want to move forward with a report. If you decide not to report however the SATU unit cannot give you some results of the tests carried out. The SATU team will let you know the results of pregnancy and STIs results however they cannot give you the results of any forensic evidence found unless a case is being taken against the preparator.
If you are attending a SATU unit you should not wash or shower before having a forensic examination as this could wash away the evidence. You should also keep the clothes you were wearing when the assault took place.
The SATU unit is a safe place and have counsellors on call if you would like to be accompanied. The SATU unit will offer support, information and medical attention, including testing for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
The Donegal SATU number is: 087 068 1964
If you have suffered sexual violence recently or in the past, either as an adult or a child, you can report this to the Gardai. You can either contact your local Gardai station or with the help of your SRCC Counsellor. You can request to have a female Gardai present if you would prefer, and you can ask for information on the legal process, what would happen if you decided to report, or any other questions you may have.
If you decide to move forward with the process, the Gardai will arrange to take a statement from you. In some cases, it might not be possible to do this immediately so an appointment will be made that suits you.
The statement you make is a legal document and it is important to give as much information and detail as you can. However, the Gardai understand this is a traumatic event for you and will give you time and support throughout the statement taking process. You can also request to have someone accompany you for support, and you are entitled to request a copy of your statement once completed.
Once the statement has been completed, the Gardai will then carry out their investigation, interviewing potential witnesses and obtaining any physical evidence such as CCTV footage, phone footage etc. This can take some time, which can be frustrating for survivors. The Gardaí should keep in regular contact with you to inform you of their progress. Once all the evidence is gathered, it is sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). The DPP will then review the evidence and decide whether to proceed with prosecution. If the DPP decide to prosecute, the case will proceed as a criminal case and the DPP will decide what charges will be brought against the accused person. You will be a witness for the Prosecution/State. You should have contact with the investigating Gardai if the DPP decides to move the case to trial, they will be able to answer your questions as you move through this process.
If you have questions or require more information regarding the legal process the Rape Crisis Network Ireland have developed a detailed Guide to the Legal Process for Survivors of Sexual Violence. Please use link to download .