Information for Patients
A Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) is a safe place to go if you have been raped or sexually assaulted. We look after all genders and gender identities, aged 14 years and over. If you’re under 14, you can get help at Child and Adolescent Forensic Medical Assessment Services.
We can help if you have experienced unwanted sexual contact of any kind. We can also help if you cannot remember what happened but think you may have been sexually assaulted. You can bring a friend or family member with you if you want to. All SATU care is free.
How we can help
A SATU can offer you:
Your healthcare needs are our priority. We will offer you a health check whether you decide to have a forensic exam or not.
Contact a SATU as soon as possible
We will offer you medication to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy. This medication works better when taken as soon as possible. If you want the rape or sexual assault to be investigated, you should get a forensic exam as soon as possible. This is because DNA evidence deteriorates (breaks down) quickly. Please contact the SATU to make an appointment for care.
We will offer you a health check whether you decide to get a forensic exam or not.
Health checks vary from person to person but they can involve:
- examining, treating and documenting your injuries
- giving medications to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- organising your sexual health test – you can come back to us to get tested for STIs
- getting you referrals for any other support you need
During your health check, we will explain the different medication you may need.
- emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy – you can take this up to 5 days after an assault
- vaccines to prevent Hepatitis B
- medication to prevent HIV (PEP) – you need to take this within 72 hours (3 days and nights) after a possible exposure to HIV
This is a type of exam carried out to get evidence following a sexual assault or rape. We can take forensic samples up to 7 days after a rape or sexual assault. There are 2 options for forensic exams at the SATU:
- When you want to report the assault and give evidence to the Gardaí straight away.
- Where you need some time to think about whether to report the assault. We can store the evidence for up to one year and the Gardaí will not be present. This option is available to patients 16 years or older.
For more information about a forensic examination, please visit https://www2.hse.ie/services/satu/forensic-exam/
If you were assaulted more than 7 days ago
You can still go to a SATU for care if you were sexually assaulted more than 7 days ago. Although it’s too late to get forensic evidence, we can still do injury mapping. This is where your injuries are assessed and documented in case you want to report the assault to the Gardaí.
We can also help with sexual health testing and give you referrals for any other help you may need.
If you’re 18 years or older, we will keep your details confidential. This is unless there’s a concern that you or anyone else is at risk of serious harm. If there’s a Garda investigation linked to the assault, evidence may need to be shared in court. The Gardaí will talk you through this process if needed.
If you’re under 18, by law, healthcare professionals have to protect children from harm. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted and you’re under 18, it has to be reported to Tusla and the Gardaí. This is to keep you safe and to provide you with support. You will need to have a parent or trusted adult with you at the SATU. This is because sexual assault is a crime and we need to make sure you are not in any further danger. If you are worried about telling your parent or guardian, we can help by discussing your options.