Preserving Evidence

All individuals that have experienced sexual misconduct are strongly encouraged to preserve evidence. Evidence preservation is important in the event a survivor decides to report a crime, seek a protective/restraining order, file a civil lawsuit, or report to the University immediately after an incident occurs or at a future date.

Assistance regarding how best to preserve evidence, including information on the sexual assault forensic exam are available through 24 hour hotlines, Project Horizon, and University Health and Counseling.

How to preserve evidence depends on circumstances, but in all cases, documentation is important--documenting dates, times, witnesses, and descriptions of incidents in a journal or log (one example of an incident log for Stalking can be found at the Stalking Resource Center). Also of importance is saving: clothing that was worn at the time of an assault; electronic exchanges (e.g., text messages, emails, and Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social medial posts, to the extent that they can be captured or preserved); photographs (including photographs stored on smartphones and other devices); verbal threats, including those communicated through a third party; and any other evidence. Have any injuries documented by a medical provider or take and save pictures of injuries or vandalized property.

Survivors of sexual assault are encouraged to preserve evidence by avoiding showering, douching, changing clothes, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, throwing out sheets, eating or drinking; and anything else that may alter or destroy evidence; and then completing a sexual assault forensic exam as soon as possible after the assault. Even if you have already taken any of these actions, you are still encouraged to have prompt medical care. The forensic exam is available at no cost with no obligation to file a report with law enforcement, enabling immediate evidence collection and preservation while at the same time giving time to consider how to proceed.