Interpersonal Violence


How To Preserve Evidence Prior to Contacting Law Enforcement


Sexual Assault

If you are interested or undecided about a criminal investigation, you can consent to the evidence collection process in the hospital emergency room which entails a sexual assault kit (SAK) as part of a sexual assault medical forensic exam (SAFE). Evidence can be collected up to 72 hours following a sexual assault. The SAK is an evidence collection tool that documents physical injury and gathers physical evidence (e.g. DNA, fibers, hair) that may have been transferred during the sexual assault. It is your choice to have evidence collected. You have the right to agree to some parts of the exam but not others or refuse all parts of the kit. It is important to know that agreeing to the evidence collection process does not in any way force you to proceed with criminal charges. You may wish to have a sexual assault kit collected but prefer to remain anonymous. This is often called a “Jane Doe” kit. The completed kit will be turned over to law enforcement. In the event you wish to pursue a criminal investigation at a later time, this ensures any possible evidence is preserved.

Evidence is best preserved by not washing away the evidence and collecting all the items that may have evidence on them such as clothing. In order for the kit to be most effective, follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid cleaning up in any way such as taking a shower, bathing, washing your hands, combing your hair or brushing your teeth
  • Avoid using the toilet, especially if you suspect you were given a drug to incapacitate you.
  • Choose either not to change your clothes or if you do change your clothes, put all of the clothing you were wearing at the time of the assault in a paper (not plastic) bag and bring the bag with you to the hospital. The hospital will provide you with scrubs or sweats or you can have someone bring clothing.


Dating/Domestic Violence/Stalking

It is important to preserve evidence if you experience dating/domestic violence or stalking. Seeking medical attention for physical assaults that occur as part of dating/domestic violence or stalking can provide documentation of the physical injuries that were sustained. You can keep a record of witnesses or people to whom you disclosed that you were experiencing these forms of interpersonal violence. You can have a friend take pictures of bruising. If you choose to make a police report, physical injuries and property damage can be documented as part of the report process.

In addition, it is useful to preserve any e-mails, texts, voice mails, written notes, and pictures of property damage, which are useful in documenting dating/domestic violence or stalking. Additionally, you can keep a record of all of the incidents in a spiral notebook (or electronic file) with a date and time and description of the abusive or harassing behavior.


Information on reporting a crime can be found here

Additional resources are located on the USD ICare website


Please contact University Police if you need further assistance


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