See the “Talk to an Advocate” page for more information.
If you have been assaulted, please know that this was not your fault. Your health and safety is the number one priority at the moment. Make sure you are in a safe place and that you receive the proper medical attention.
Preserving physical evidence:
If possible, try not to shower, bathe, eat/drink, or brush your teeth until you’ve had a chance to discuss possible options immediately after the assault. These activities may eliminate any DNA evidence that could potentially be found through the evidentiary exam process (see below)
Survivors have three medical options 5 days following a sexual assault:
Requires a police report
An evidentiary exam is an option available to survivors who would wish to report to law enforcement first and within five days of the assault. Evidentiary exams are intended to collect forensic evidence for use in criminal prosecution. The exam is a head to toe exam that includes emergency contraception and STI preventive medications.
Does not require a police report
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides survivors with the opportunity to have physical evidence collected through a modified evidentiary exam. This allows for the survivor to collect evidence without making an initial report to law enforcement. The evidence is collected and preserved for up to two years if the survivor decides to move forward with making a report to law enforcement.
Please note: Evidentiary exams are completed at the Bridging Evidence Assessment & Resources (BEAR) Clinic in Sacramento, not the Student Health and Wellness Center nor any other local hospital.
Does not require a police report and does not collect evidence
If a survivor does not want to report to law enforcement or decides to seek assistance outside of the 5 day window, they may schedule an appointment with a medical provider to obtain medical care. Survivors may schedule an appointment with their primary care provider, the Student Health and Wellness Center, or Planned Parenthood. You may ask them for preventative STI medication or emergency contraceptives. Emergency contraception can be accessed at the Student Health and Wellness Center, the Wellness To Go vending machine at the ARC, or at your local pharmacy.
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 by:
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've already deleted text messages, you might be able to recover them if it's 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’s easy to later forget names or locations.
Even if you don't want to participate in the investigative process now, you might change your mind later, so it's helpful to preserve as much information as possible.
Following an Evidentiary/VAWA Exam
- A crime lab has 120 days to process sexual assault evidence or 30 days to transmit the evidence to another lab. The first lab’s 120-day deadline applies even if the evidence is transferred to a second lab.
- For unsolved cases, law enforcement agencies must retain sexual assault evidence for at least 20 years or until the victim’s 40th birthday if the victim was under the age of 18 on the date of the alleged offense.
- For solved cases, sexual assault evidence must generally be retained as long as any person remains incarcerated in connection with the case.
To retrieve an update on the status of your evidentiary exam kit:
- To learn the location and status of your kit, you may contact the California Department of Justice’s Victims’ Services Unit (VSU) by phone at (877) 433-9069 or by email at email@example.com.
- VSU requires a police report number or kit number to conduct this search.
- VSU will only indicate the current general location and status of the kit (for example, the kit was received by law enforcement, sent to a crime lab, or received by the crime lab, or DNA analysis is in progress or DNA analysis is completed) and the name and contact information of the assigned law enforcement agency’s investigator, if that information is available.
- If VSU is unable to locate the kit, or if the victim would like details about the case or testing outcomes, the victim must contact the investigating law enforcement agency for additional information.