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Trop Med Int Health. 2014 Mar;19(3):342-7. doi: 10.1111/tmi.12249. Epub 2013 Dec 21.

Fear of the perpetrator: a major reason why sexual assault victims delayed presenting at hospital.

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  • 1School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa; Newcastle Provincial Hospital, Newcastle, South Africa.



To identify the reasons for presentation of sexual assault more than 72 h after the incidents at Newcastle Hospital, South Africa.


A retrospective analysis of 534 medical records of victims seen between 2005 and 2009 at the hospital's sexual assault service centre.


Overall, 219 (41%) of the victims presented at the hospital more than 72 h after the alleged sexual assault, mainly for fear of the perpetrator (37.4%). Females constituted 87%, and rape with vaginal penetration was the most common form of sexual assault reported (74%). Tests of significance showed a positive association between fear of the perpetrator and delayed presentation at hospital. Age under 9 years and being scared of what relatives would say about alleged sexual assault were also associated with delayed presentation.


Attention needs to be focused on educating society on the importance of reporting sexual assault incidents promptly in order for victims to benefit from appropriate medical treatment.

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


delayed presentation; fear of perpetrator; post‐exposure prophylaxis; sexual assault

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