Seeking Medical Attention after Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is a traumatic experience and survivors should seek prompt medical attention to ensure collection of forensic evidence.
There is a 72-hour rape kit window to collect evidence, but this does not mean that you should wait to get medical attention.
Every passing minute after a sexual assault degrades crucial forensic evidence. Therefore, it is critical for survivors to seek immediate medical attention to preserve forensic evidence to increase the prospect of justice after sexual assault.
The Deterioration of Forensic Evidence
With each passing minute following a sexual assault, valuable forensic evidence on the survivor’s body may be lost. Understanding forensic evidence – such as DNA, hair, fibers, and bodily fluids – can be easily lost or contaminated without proper precautions. Therefore, any delay in seeking medical attention significantly compromises the investigation and poses challenges in identifying the perpetrator. To avoid contamination place all clothing into separate paper bags along with anything else worn, such as jewelry, tampons, period pads, underwear, etc.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Survivors must take swift action to maximize the chances of collecting vital evidence. Whenever possible, it is crucial to refrain from eating, showering, changing clothes, using the restroom, as this could unintentionally tamper with potential forensic evidence that can be collected through a rape kit examination. By following these guidelines, survivors can preserve critical evidence that aids in identifying the assailant and ensuring justice.
Suspected Drug Involvement
Survivors who suspect that they may have been drugged should never wait within the 72 hours before seeking a rape kit examination. Unfortunately, the longer the delay, the greater the likelihood of losing crucial evidence regarding any substance used to incapacitate them during the incident. If survivors suspect drug involvement or experience unusual cognitive effects, like inability to stay conscious, difficulty concentrating, difficulty processing information, or inability to defend themselves that suggest drugging — seek immediate medical attention. Any delay in reporting sexual assault significantly reduces the chances of finding supportive forensic evidence, especially in cases involving drug-facilitated assaults. Detecting substances used to incapacitate victims becomes increasingly challenging over time, underscoring the urgency of seeking prompt medical care.
Choosing the Right Healthcare Facility
Call ahead or look online to ensure the hospital nearest you offers a rape kit— unfortunately, not every hospital has such evidence collection options. It is important to make sure that the chosen healthcare facility provides forensic examinations specifically designed for sexual assault victims. This step will ensure survivors get the care they need as quickly as possible and enhances the chances of collecting forensic evidence to aid in the investigation process and ultimately obtain justice.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence and are seeking legal services, contact us for a confidential consultation.