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How To Preserve Evidence

Sexual Assault
If you are interested or undecided about pressing charges, you can consent to the evidence collection process in the emergency room which entails a rape kit. Evidence can be collected up to 96 hours following a sexual assault. The rape kit is an evidence collection tool that documents physical injury and gathers physical evidence (e.g. DNA, fibers, hair) that may have been transferred during the sexual assault. It is your choice to have evidence collected. You have the right to agree to some parts of the exam but not others or refuse all parts of the kit. It is important to know that agreeing to the evidence collection process does not in any way force you to proceed with criminal charges.

Evidence is best preserved by not washing away the evidence and collecting all the items that may have evidence on them such as clothing. In order for the kit to be most effective, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid cleaning up in any way such as taking a shower, bathing, washing your hands, combing your hair or brushing your teeth
  • Avoid using the toilet especially if you suspect you were given a drug to incapacitate you.
  • Choose either to not change your clothes or if you do change your clothes, put all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper (not plastic) bag and bring the bag with you to the hospital. The hospital will provide you with scrubs or sweats or you can have someone bring clothing.

Dating/Domestic Violence/Stalking
It is important to preserve evidence if you experience dating/domestic violence or stalking. Seeking medical attention for physical assaults that occur as part of dating/domestic violence or stalking can provide documentation of the physical injuries that were sustained. You can keep a record of witnesses or people to whom you disclosed that you were experiencing these forms of interpersonal violence. You can have a friend take pictures of bruising. If you choose to make a police report, physical injuries and property damage can be documented as part of the report process.

In addition it is useful to preserve any e-mails, texts, voice mails, written notes, and pictures of property damage which are useful in documenting dating/domestic violence or stalking. Additionally, you can keep a record of all of the incidents in a spiral note book with a date and time and description of the abusive or harassing behavior.