Evidence collected from a sexual assault can be a powerful tool in a criminal prosecution, if the victim chooses to file a police report. While evidence can be collected and preserved via medical examinations, victims can take steps to preserve evidence as well.
Medical examinations are important for injuries that are undetectable, emergency contraception and testing/treatment for sexual transmitted diseases.
Evidence Collection Exam or "Rape Kit"
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a Registered Nurse who has received specialized training to provide comprehensive care as well as to conduct a forensic exam for patients who are victims of sexual assault or abuse. A forensic medical exam serves a number of purposes, some of which include documentation of findings and injuries as well as testing and treating for sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy. If you are an adult, a hospital exam will not automatically trigger a police report. Adults have 96 hours after an assault to get an exam without reporting it to the police. Many medical centers also offer sliding fee scales, charity care, and can assist with applying for Crime Victim’s Compensation.
SANE programs in Pierce County include:
MultiCare Facilities: Tacoma General Hospital, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital
You can ask to have an evidence collection exam at the hospital. Evidence can be collected even if you choose not to report to the police. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner’s (SANE) are specifically trained for this purpose.
If you suspect that you have been drugged, ask the medical provider about a toxicology kit which tests blood and urine.
Steps to Preserve Evidence
Try not to do any of the following immediately after a sexual assault:
Shower, bathe, use the restroom, douche, comb your hair or brush your teeth
Change clothes – if you do, put the clothes into paper bags
Clean up the crime scene or move anything the offender may have touched