Survivors have a right to complete medical care whether or not they decide to have forensic samples collected (Sexual Assault Service, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre and Women Against Violence Against Women, 2017).

Medical and forensic procedures should only be completed with the survivor’s ongoing consent. The survivor can choose any portion of the medical assessment, treatment, and/or forensic exam.

Police cannot direct healthcare providers to complete a forensic exam or direct when to conduct one (Kafka, 2023).

Police should not be physically present during the medical assessment or forensic exam to maintain patient privacy and confidentiality (RCMP, 2016). Healthcare providers collecting samples in the forensic exam are responsible for the integrity of the forensic exam and maintaining and ensuring the chain of custody for the forensic samples. 

Survivors have a right to equal and non-discriminatory reproductive health care, including contraception, abortion, information to make decisions, and access to services. Affirming a survivor’s right to choose and advocating for reproductive self-determination is essential for providing trauma-informed care (Erdman and Cook, 2008; IAFN, 2022; Government of Canada, 2022).

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