WHAT IS CASATS? The Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Services (CASATS) Galway provides an integrated forensic medical service for children (under 14) both male and female, who are victims of rape or sexual assault or suspected child sexual abuse. The service also accommodates adolescents 14-18 years who allege historical child sexual abuse (more than 7 days previously). The service operates 24 hours a day/ 365 days a year for patients who report an assault to the Gardaí or Social Services. The purpose of the Unit is to provide a confidential, co-ordinated service for child and adolescent victims of rape and sexual assault or sexual abuse within the West and Mid Western Regions.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK A CHILD MAY HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED? Ensure the child is safe now. Inform parents / carers, if the child is not your own.
If the carers are the alleged abusers inform Social Services or An Garda Síochána.
Listen to the child. Tell them how brave they are and that they have done the right thing in talking about any abuse. Don’t ask lots of probing / leading questions.
Share your concerns with a professional (Social Services, An Garda Síochána, GP)
IF THE ABUSE MAY HAVE HAPPENED WITHIN THE PAST FEW HOURS / DAYS:
Delay washing / bathing the child until after the examination so that vital evidence is not lost.
It is also advisable not to brush teeth or take anything to eat / drink if the alleged abuse is very recent.
If using the bathroom, ask the child not to use any toilet tissue if possible.
The child’s clothing may be taken as evidence. Bring a change of clothing to the examination.
FORENSIC MEDICAL ASSESSMENT A forensic medical assessment involves the doctor taking a medical history and the patient having a “top to toe” examination. Any evidence (swabs or samples) that can be collected is decided from this assessment. This is done in a child friendly environment. The parent / carer is encouraged to stay with the child for the full examination. Photographs are used to document injuries or other findings. Photography usually means that a child / adolescent wont have to have to be examined again. Pre-pubertal children do not undergo internal (speculum) examinations. Most children are easily reassured during examination.
This video has been produced to help parents and children know what happens if they have to go to a Sexual Assault Treatment Centre for a forensic examination.
FORENSIC SCREENING For acute (recent) assaults CASATS provides a 24 hour Forensic medical screening service by an appropriately trained Doctor up to and including 7 days post the assault. It is desirable that the examination takes place as soon as possible after an assault to prevent loss of and contamination of evidence. This examination can take one – three hours. The Doctor will take swabs and sometimes a urine or blood test which will be taken as evidence by the Gardaí. The results of these tests are received by the Gardaí only.
AFTERCARE A child / adolescent’s health and psychological needs are fully considered during forensic medical assessment. Any immediate medical (health) needs are addressed at the time of examination. Recommendations for further care are discussed and agreed with the child’s guardian at the time of examination, and appropriate referrals initiated for ongoing therapeutic support according to individual needs. All children and adolescents using this service will be referred to Social Services to address any safeguarding issues and to ensure ongoing support for the child and family.
WHERE IS THE CASATS? The CASATS Unit is based temporarily in a building which is in a very discrete private location. The unit is shared with the Galway adult Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) which is located in a dedicated building near Galway racecourse. If you come to the Unit with the Gardaí or a social worker, they will use an entrance at the back of the building. You will have direct access to the unit and there will be no waiting in a public area. The purpose of the Unit is to provide a confidential, co-ordinated service for child and adolescent victims of rape and sexual assault or sexual abuse within the West and Mid Western Regions.
For advice or to book an appointment ring the unit 091 765751 or 087 6338118 Mon -Fri 8am to 4 pm, or contact your local Garda Station/Social Work Department.
Out of hours contact your local Garda station.