Shepherd University

SU Interpersonal Violence
 Resource Center

Preservation of Evidence

Relationship Violence

Preserving evidence is important in situations involving dating and domestic violence. Collecting this information can help anyone you choose to report the incident to provide support for you and to take appropriate follow-up actions.

  • Seek medical attention for and photograph any physical injuries; the examining medical professional can attest to the nature of these conditions, including cuts, scrapes, bruises, fractures, choking, pulled out hair) that can be photographed or attested to by an examining physician or medical clinician. Forensic evidence may be collected by medical professionals to obtain fingerprints, saliva, blood, semen, hairs, fibers, and tissue or blood from the perpetrator. Please know that some injuries, such as those caused by strangulation may not be visible for several days.
  • Place any evidence such as torn clothing or broken fingernails in a paper bag.
  • Maintain any paper documentation— diaries, letters, notes —either from the suspect or written by the victim and detailing past acts of abuse and violence
  • Keep any computer, internet/ email, text messages, social media and other forms of electronic evidence (voicemails, answering machine tapes, emergency number police tapes)
  • Keep a list of any witnesses who can provide information about any incidents of relationship violence.
  • Do not clean up or alter the location in which an act of violence occurred; broken household items should not be moved.
  • Maintain records of any past incidents of relationship violence including statements from service providers involved in past incidents of violence, prior police incident reports, prior medical files detailing any past injuries, previous court orders such as protective orders or bail restrictions, and any past criminal record/history of the offenders or suspects.