While the aftermath of a sexual assault may feel overwhelming and disorienting, this time period is crucial for collecting the evidence that you need to bring the perpetrator to justice. Many sexual assault cases result in a negative outcome for the survivor due to a lack of physical evidence. If you were recently the victim of a sexual assault, take the following steps to preserve the evidence of the crime for your future court case or lawsuit with the help of a rideshare sexual assault attorney.
Go to the Hospital
Even if you are not suffering from any physical injuries, it is important to visit a hospital as soon as possible following a sexual assault. Not only is this important to treat any sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancies, visiting a hospital will give you access to a forensic medical exam.
Physical evidence from a sexual assault can disappear quickly – usually between 48 hours to 96 hours after the assault. Because of this, it is important to visit the hospital as soon as you can. By undergoing this exam, a trained professional will collect important pieces of evidence that you can use in a future case against the perpetrator.
Undergoing a forensic medical exam does not mean that you have to report the crime to the police right away. If you are not ready to pursue legal action, you can ask the hospital to store the forensic kit in a safe place until you decide to report to the police. Under the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, the hospital must notify you in writing 60 days prior to destroying this kit so that you know when you must report.
Refrain from Washing Yourself
A major part of the forensic medical exam is collecting various swabs from parts of your body to find DNA evidence. You want to make sure that you do not accidentally destroy or wash away any of this evidence before you go to the hospital.
- Refrain from combing your hair or brushing your teeth before you go to the hospital.
- As best as you can, try not to use the bathroom before your exam. If you do have to go, do not wipe yourself like you normally do – instead, pat lightly or drip dry.
- Do not wash your hands, clean under your fingernails, or take a shower before the exam.
Do Not Change Your Clothes
While the exam may involve taking samples from your body, you will also need to provide samples of the clothing you were wearing during the assault. If you are going to the hospital immediately after the incident occurred, you can bring a change of clothes or call a trusted friend or family member to bring a change of clothes and other necessities to you.
Do not wash your clothes, or destroy any article of clothing you wore during the assault. If you do wish to change your clothes, place your old clothes in a paper bag and bring them with you to the medical facility.
Refrain from Eating or Drinking
The examiner will most likely take both saliva and blood samples while you are at the hospital. As a result, you want to ensure that you preserve any evidence that could be in your bloodstream or mouth before the exam.
- Try not to eat or drink anything, including alcohol, before you take the exam.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or chew any gum prior to the exam.
- You may have traces of drugs or medication in your system that could help with the investigation. Refrain from taking any other drugs or prescriptions before you go to the hospital.
Sexual assault can result in significant physical and emotional trauma to the survivor – but if you were a victim of sexual assault, you have options to receive justice through both criminal and civil pathways. With evidence preserved from the scene of the crime, you and your attorney can build a strong case to punish the perpetrator through the criminal system and to collect compensation for your damages through a civil lawsuit. Contact your lawyer to discuss your case and plan your next steps.