Survivors may feel overwhelmed by all the decisions they are making, including giving fully informed consent to medical care and/or forensic exam, because of the trauma of being sexually assaulted distressed (Manning and Mana, 2022).

Medical care and the forensic exam can be invasive and traumatizing for the survivor (Manning and Mana, 2022).

It can be helpful for the survivor to bring a support person such as a friend, family or partner when accessing healthcare.

Many communities may have victim services, outreach or sexual assault response workers who can accompany survivors to the hospital or healthcare facility.

You can offer the option of a support person and/or connect the survivor to local community anti-violence services. You can contact VictimLinkBC or go to EVA BC’s service directory of programs for more information.

You can reduce the potential negative impacts to the survivor by taking the following steps:

  • Explain the process in detail, including what and why you are asking/doing.
  • Ask for the survivor’s ongoing consent including permission to touch them.
  • Offer options and explain what to expect with each option i.e., which parts of the assessment or treatment they want to proceed with.
  • Allow more time so the process is not rushed.
  • Speak in a calm, matter-of-fact voice and avoid sudden movements.
  • Check-in regularly about how the survivor is feeling and provide reassurance.
  • Ask the survivor about:
    • How you can support them.
    • What parts of the procedure are difficult or triggering.
    • How they want to let you know that they need a break or want you to stop (Manning and Mana, 2022; Sherman et al., 2019).
  • Use gender inclusive language. Please refer to this resource that describes inclusive terms clinicians can use when providing care to gender diverse people.
  • Follow gender affirming and trauma-informed practices for sexual health screening and pelvic examination, more information can be found here
  • Address the survivor’s accessibility needs by identifying and accommodating what the survivor needs in terms of:
  • Ask if there are ways to help the survivor feel more comfortable e.g., water, extra gown, breaks, lighting change.

Provincial Language Services provides interpreting services 24 hours a day, seven days a week free of charge to BC patients and/or their families.

Spoken language interpreting services are available for any agency or service under BC Health Authorities and other healthcare services.

Sign Language interpreting services are available to:

  • Healthcare professionals providing services covered under the Medical Services Plan or Hospital Insurance Act.
  • Practitioners working for a program or service under the BC Health Authorities.

You can submit a request to Provincial Language Services for spoken and sign language interpreting services through this link.

Click here for more information.

All BC Health Authorities have Indigenous health services that support patients, families and staff and the delivery of culturally safe health care. Access to support will vary by location. Please refer to the links below for more information: 

Trans Care BC’s health navigation team is a provincial resource that helps Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people identify health-care system pathways, get information, and find services, resources and supports related to trans health (Trans Care BC, n.d.). Click here for more information.

Trans Care BC has developed tips and guidance to help you provide trauma-informed and gender affirming care:

  • This resource provides non-gendered terms and phrases you can use with clients in clinical settings when you’re unaware of the language they use in referring to their anatomy.
  • This reference provides tips on how to help gender diverse patients have safer experiences and receive dignified care in hospitals.
  • This resource provides guidance on how to provide affirming and trauma-informed sexual health care and pelvic examinations.

The Women’s Health Centre Access Clinic provides reproductive health care for transgender patients, adolescents (16+) and adult women with intellectual or physical disabilities. 

Click here to for the Access Clinic Referral Form.

Click here to for more information.

Questions? Contact our Community Coordination for Survivor Safety (CCSS) team at ccss@endingviolence.org.