If you have been assaulted, it’s highly recommended to try and preserve any forensic evidence. The best way to preserve any medically-related evidence is through an evidentiary examination with a SANE nurse. This is a type of medical exam that can be completed up to seven days after the assault took place. However, because any forensic evidence left behind after an assault can degrade, it’s best to get the examination as soon as possible after the assault.

If you are considering an evidentiary examination, there are steps you can take to help prevent the degradation of any medical evidence in this seven-day period. Depending on the time frame, not all of these options may be possible. Just try and do as many of the following as possible.

How to preserve medical evidence

Before your examination try not to:

  • Shower, bathe, or douche
  • Use the bathroom
  • Change your clothes 
    • If you do, bring the clothes you were wearing, unwashed and in a paper bag (plastic can destroy the evidence)
  • Comb or shave your hair
  • Clean up the scene of the assault
  • Move anything the perpetrator touched
  • Eat, drink, or smoke, if there was oral contact
  • Wash your hands

Preserving written records

Sometimes it can be important to preserve any written records of communication between you and someone who is distressing to you. For example, if you are being stalked or harassed, it is highly recommended that you save copies of all the stalker’s recordable attempts to contact you. Here are some ways you can preserve those types of records:

  • Keep a journal – Keeping a journal is a good way to record things as they happen. Be sure to write down:
    • Who
    • What happened
    • Date and approximate time
    • Where
    • Anyone who could have seen it happen
    • People you talked to about it afterwards
  • Take screenshots, photographs, or save hard copies of all unwanted communications, like:
    • Emails
    • Text messages
    • Social media messages
    • Call-logs
    • Paper mail
    • Notes (Friday flowers, etc.)
    • Gifts or other objects

You don’t have to do it alone

If you are being harassed or stalked, there are people here who can help. Don’t hesitate to file a Community Concern Form or speak to someone to talk through your options.