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Following a Sexual Assault

If a sexual assault took place in the last 5 days, a CARE Advocate can provide support by helping you review your rights and options in regards to medical care, reporting options, and access to a free sexual assault forensic medical exam (SAFE). 

Preserving Physical Evidence: Immediately after an assault

If possible, try not to shower, bathe, eat/drink, or brush your teeth until you have had the opportunity to discuss possible options immediately after the assault. These activities have the potential to eliminate any DNA evidence that could potentially be found through the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) process.

Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE): Requires a police report

A Forensic exam is an option available to you if you who wish to report to law enforcement within five days of the assault. SAFE exams are intended to collect forensic evidence for use in criminal prosecution.

Non-Investigative Reporting (NIR): Does not require a police report

You have the option to have a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) without filing a police report. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) interviews the victim, collects any physical evidence from the sexual assault, and stores evidence in a secure location using a case number. Physical evidence will be held for a period of a minimum of 18 months, then it will be destroyed. The NIR will not trigger an investigation; therefore, no action will be taken against the alleged party as the result of this report. If you change your mind and want to make an investigative report to law enforcement, you will sign a release allowing the SANE to release evidence to the police. UCSD students or employees who want to utilize the NIR option should contact CARE at the Sexual Assault Resource Center and a CARE Advocate can offer free and confidential help with this process.

Medical Check-Up: Does not require a police report and does not collect evidence.

If you do not want to report to law enforcement or decide to seek assistance outside of the window for a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, you may schedule an appointment with a medical provider to obtain medical care. You may choose to schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, Student Health Services, or Planned Parenthood. Healthcare providers can provide medical care which may include preventative STI medication and/or emergency contraceptives.

Student Health Services, (858) 534-2669, provides medical treatment and follow-up care for all registered students. They offer a full range of STD testing and emergency contraception.

Please note: Per California Penal Code §§ 11160, all medical providers in California are mandated reporters when they are treating an injury caused by “abusive or assaultive” behavior. This means that a healthcare provider may need to make a police report if their patient discloses that the injury they are seeking treatment for was caused by abuse or assault.

Collecting and preserving evidence

A forensic examination is one way to preserve evidence, but it's not the only way. You can easily take some important steps to preserve evidence:

  • You can save clothing that was worn, or any pads/tampons, etc., at the time of the assault in paper bags. Make sure to store these items separately so that they are not touching the other items. Do NOT place items to be stored in plastic bags - this may cause mold to grow and may destroy any biological evidence.
  • Saving all text messages, emails, social media postings (taking screenshots can be helpful) or anything else that might relate to the assault, or that might be helpful later in reconstructing a timeline of events.
  • If you have already deleted text messages, you might be able to recover them if it is still within the same billing period; contact your mobile service provider for information.
  • Writing down the names of people who might have seen you immediately before or after the assault, as it is easy to later forget names or locations.

Connect with Support Services

Whether or not you choose to report, you can still receive support services from CARE at SARC. Connect with us and learn more about your rights and options.