The Rape Victim: A Project of the Committee on Women of the American Psychiatric Association ...

By Elaine Hilberman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
THREE
MEDICAL ASPECTS OF RAPE
The physician treating the rape victim has the following tasks: 1
1. immediate care of physical injuries
2. prevention of venereal disease
3. prevention of pregnancy
4. proper medicolegal examination with documentation by evidence collection for law enforcement
5. prevention or alleviation of permanent psychological damage

Since the issue of psychological trauma is dealt with elsewhere in this monograph, this section will focus on the medicolegal aspects of the victim's care. The psychiatrist or counselor needs familiarity with medical aspects of rape, since the victim's physical status presents yet another dilemma during the crisis period.


Traumatic Injuries

Although it is said that most victims do not suffer serious physical, injury, most case reports describe traumatic injury in a significant number of instances. Hayman 2 describes a sample of 2,190 victims, in which 82 sustained severe physical injury noted at the time of the initial medical examination. Of the 24 who were hospitalized, 6 children and 1 adult had vaginal or vaginoperineal tears, while 1 child and 16 adults were admitted for other injuries. The child had multiple head injuries, and the adults sustained a variety of injuries which included abrasions, lacerations, stab wounds, fractures, and a torn digital nerve. The remaining 58 victims required major treatment in the emergency room, of whom 11 were children with vaginal or vaginoperineal lacerations. Many hundreds more required treatment of minor injuries. During Hayman's study period, there were 4 proven murders from physical assaults which included

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