Male sexual assault: Physical injury and vulnerability in 103 presentations
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Objectives: To i) describe the demographic and assault characteristics of males alleging recent sexual assault, ii) determine the severity and frequency of general body injury and the frequency of anal and genital injury, iii) identify vulnerability factors and assault characteristics associated with injury. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC), Western Australia. Participants: Total of 103 post-pubertal males attending SARC from Jan-2009 to Dec-2016. Methods: Men underwent a standardised medical examination and data collection by forensically trained doctors following consent for general body and/or ano-genital examination. Men were considered vulnerable if at least one of the following factors was present: current mental illness; intellectual or physical disability; alcohol intoxication; previous sexual victimization; living in prison or homeless (no fixed address), aged < 18 years. Statistical analysis was performed by Fisher exact test. An algorithm was used to classify general body injuries as mild, moderate or severe. Results: At least one vulnerability factor was present in 88.3% of the 103 men. More than one factor was present in 54.4%. General body injury was observed in 58.0% (40/69) of men consenting to general body examination; 46.4%, 10.1% and 1.4% were classified as having respectively, mild, moderate and severe injuries. Three assault characteristics were associated with general body injury: the use of blunt force (p = 0.002), multiple assailants (p = 0.049) and deprivation of liberty (p = 0.040). Genital injury and anal injury was observed in, respectively, 6.5% (5/77) and 14.3% (11/77) of men consenting to ano-genital examination. Of the 49 men examined following completed penetrative anal assault, 18.4% (9/49) had anal injuries. In these 49 men, those assaulted by strangers were more likely to have an anal injury compared to non-stranger assaults (p = 0.019). No demographic, clinical or vulnerability characteristics of the sexually assaulted men were associated with general body, genital and/or anal injury. Conclusion: Although general body injuries were more frequent than genital and anal injuries, most of the body injuries were mild in severity. While the majority of men in our study presented with one or more vulnerabilities only assault characteristics (not vulnerabilities) were associated with injury.
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