Shepherd University

SU Interpersonal Violence
 Resource Center

Preservation of Evidence

Sexual Assault

After a sexual assault occurs, the most important things for a victim to do is to get to a safe space and seek support. It is also important to preserve any evidence that may exist from the sexual assault.

If a person is sexually assaulted, preserving any available evidence, including the results of a sexual assault forensic evidence test, blood tests for “date rape” drugs, and/or testing urine, allows her or him to leave open the option of criminal prosecution in the future without the obligation to take that step. Moreover, because some kinds of evidence may only be collected within a short time period after an assault, delaying action to preserve evidence immediately after an assault may reduce the chances for a successful criminal prosecution in the future.

To help preserve evidence, it is suggested that you”:

  • Avoid bathing, showering or douching (for women).
  • If you must urinate, collect a sample of the urine in a clean container.
  • Keep on the original clothes and bring an extra set to war home from the hospital.
  • In case you have already changed clothes, place the clothing you were wearing during the assault (not laundered) in paper bags – not plastic bags which may destroy evidence – and bring them with you to the hospital.
  • Avoid combing or brushing your hair.
  • Do not brush your teeth.
  • Do not smoke, eat, drink, or brush teeth, if there was oral contact.
  • Do not clean up the location where the sexual assault occurred.
  • Do not move anything the offender may have touched, including bed linens, etc.

If you are not able or are not willing to do any of the suggestions listed above, evidence can still be collected and it remains important to seek medical attention.

(Courtesy of Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: