Documentation Tips for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Documentation Tips for Survivors of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is seriously traumatic and life-changing.
It’s a crime that can affect all genders, ages, and professions. For example:

  • Children with disabilities, an absent parent, or in foster care are often targeted by sexual predators.
  • Studies have estimated that anywhere from 25% to 80% of women experience sexual abuse at work during their lifetime.
  • Sexual abuse occurs in faith-based settings such as churches, temples, synagogues or mosques, often by a member of the clergy.
  • Healthcare professionals and massage therapists have been known to take advantage of their patients and clients.
  • Sexual assault has long been a concern in schools and on college campuses.

Please remember: you did nothing wrong. Someone else took your power away, but you are courageous and strong and there are people who will help you seek justice. Your attacker can be made to pay, and you can make this happen by documenting what they did to you.

Next Steps

As soon as you get to a safe space, take the following steps to preserve evidence of the assault.

Do Not Contaminate or Destroy Physical Evidence

Retain all physical evidence of what happened. For example:

  • Do not change out of the clothing you were wearing when assaulted. If you absolutely need to change, put the clothes in a paper bag. Do not wash them, as clothing can be a source of evidence such as your attacker’s hairs, blood, clothing fibers, and other evidence.
  • Do not bathe, shower, or brush your teeth before seeking medical attention. Even eating and drinking can eliminate or contaminate evidence.
  • If the attack occurred in your bed, bring the bedsheets, bedspread, and comforter to the police in a clean paper bag.

If you call the police from the scene of the assault, it’s better to leave everything undisturbed so that they can collect evidence. They will gather pertinent items like linens, bedding, and your unlaundered clothing.

Take Photos

If you have visible physical injuries, such as black eyes, bruising, and abrasions, take pictures of them using a method that documents the date and time of each photo. If possible, take pictures of the space where the attack occurred, such as a sofa, bed, or office.

Write Down What You Remember

Memories fade quickly, so if you have the ability and time to do so, write down as much as you remember about the attack and the assailant. If you don’t know the person, these details can include a physical description, their address (if you went to their place) and a description of their car.

Get Witness Contact Information

If anyone saw you with the perpetrator before or after the assault, get their names and contact information. Their statements can help prove that a crime took place and support a future order of protection if you need one.

Save Ancillary Evidence

  • If you believe that you may have been given a drugged drink, try to save any unconsumed portion for future testing. If this is not possible, inform your medical assistance provider or the police of your suspicion so that they can take a blood or urine sample.
  • If your attacker discusses or brags about their actions to you via email or text or references the assault on their social media networks, save the communications and/or take screenshots.

Contact a Trusted Sexual Assault Attorney

Sexual assault is not like other injuries, especially when it is at the hands of someone you knew and trusted. At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, oursex abuse attorneys understand what you are going through and want you to know that you are not at fault and you are not alone.

We have helped several sexual abuse victims of all ages present successful cases against their attackers. Attorney Leto Copeley is also a member of the National Crime Victim Bar Association, which educates the public about sexual assault and shares information and resources with all sexual abuse attorneys so that more victims can get justice. For a caring and confidential consultation, pleasecontact us.

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