Evidence collected from a sexual assault can be a powerful tool in a criminal prosecution, if the victim chooses to file a police report. While evidence can be collected and preserved via medical examinations, victims can take steps to preserve evidence as well. For more specific information, please see our Forensics, Rape Kits, Medical Information page.
Medical examinations are important for injuries that are undetectable, emergency contraception and testing/treatment for sexual transmitted diseases. If you have been sexually assaulted you can go to any hospital to receive a forensic exam from a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). A SANE nurse is a Registered Nurse who has received specialized training to provide comprehensive care as well as to conduct a forensic exam for patients who are victims of sexual assault or abuse. A forensic medical exam serves a number of purposes, some of which include documentation of findings and injuries as well as testing and treating for sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy. If you are an adult, a hospital exam will not automatically trigger a police report. Adults have 72 hours after an assault to get an exam without reporting it to the police. Many medical centers also offer sliding fee scales, charity care and can assist with applying for Crime Victim’s Compensation.
SANE programs in Pierce County include:
- Bonney Lake: Bonney Lake Emergency
- Enumclaw: St. Elizabeth Hospital
- Federal Way: St. Francis Hospital
- Gig Harbor: St. Anthony Hospital
- Lakewood: St. Clare Hospital
- Puyallup: MultiCare Good Samaritan
- Parkland: MultiCare Good Samaritan Emergency - Parkland
- South Hill: MultiCare South Hill Emergency
- Tacoma: MultiCare Allenmore Hospital, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, St. Joseph Medical Center, Mary Bridge Children’s Emergency Department
If you suspect that you have been drugged, ask the medical provider about a toxicology kit which tests blood and urine.
Steps to Preserve Evidence
Try not to do any of the following immediately after a sexual assault:
- Shower, bathe, use the restroom, douche, comb your hair or brush your teeth
- Change clothes – if you do, put the clothes into paper bags
- Clean up the crime scene or move anything the offender may have touched
Preserving Other Evidence
You may have other evidence of sexual assault or sexual harassment that should be preserved if possible. For example, electronic records of communications may not be available after you block a person from sending you text messages, emails or other messages via social media apps. Before you delete messages or block a source of incoming messages that may contain evidence that will be useful to investigators, please take screenshots or print copies of those messages in order to preserve them.