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Following a Sexual Assault

The window to obtain a sexual assault forensic exam is about five days. If a sexual assault or relationship violence injury happened recently we encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible to discuss access to a forensic exam. A CARE Advocate can provide support by helping you review your rights and options in regards to medical care, reporting options, and provide guidance on how to access a free forensic medical exam.

If an incident took place more than five days ago, we can still support. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office to discuss support regardless of when the incident occurred.

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 survivors within five days of the assault who wish to report to law enforcement. SAFE exams are intended to collect forensic evidence for use in criminal prosecution.

SAFE Exams are offered at Student Health Services for student survivors only and for incidents that occur in the UCSD Police Department jurisdiction. To learn if you are eligible and/or to access this option, please contact CARE to speak to an advocate. 

Non-Participatory Reporting (NPR): Does not require a police report

If a victim/survivor chooses not to report to law enforcement or to the University, they still have the right to receive medical treatment, advocacy services and an optional sexual assault forensic exam. In San Diego County, this exam is called a Non-Participatory Report (NPR)*. The evidence will not include the victim/survivor’s name. The NPR may or may not trigger an investigation (without the participation of the victim/survivor). The NPR is free of cost to the victim/survivor. If the victim/survivor decides that they want to participate with law enforcement, the victim/survivor must call Palomar Health Services and sign a release. This release allows Palomar Health Services to provide identifying information to law enforcement. Physical evidence will be held by law enforcement until the survivor is ready and wanting to pursue an investigation process. The victim/survivor will be given written notice if law enforcement decides to destroy evidence.  The evidence collected will be tested. The survivor has the right to contact law enforcement to learn about the status of DNA testing of the kit and other evidence.  Under CA Penal Code 11160, healthcare providers are mandated reporters and must report cases of sexual assault to law enforcement. 

The NPR option for UC San Diego students, faculty and staff can be requested by contacting CARE at SARC at (858)534-5793. CARE at SARC Advocates can assist survivors with access to transportation to the SART facility. Survivors also have the option of requesting a NPR through San Diego County rape crisis hotline: (858)385-4657.

UC San Diego Medical Centers DO NOT conduct SAFE/NPR forensic exams by request. If a victim/survivor visits a medical facility solely for the purpose of requesting a forensic exam, law enforcement will be notified. A victim/survivor has the right not to participate in the criminal justice system, either prior to the examination or at any other time.

*In the state of California, the NPR is referred to as the “VAWA Exam” or the “924”.

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 by calling (858) 534-5793 or emailing