Immediate Steps a Complainant Should Take After Sexual Assault
A. In the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or similar event, the complainant should first get to a safe place and to call 911 if in immediate danger.
B. The complainant should next seek medical attention, regardless of whether a complainant has decided to report the crime to the police. It is very important for the complainant of sexual assault to seek medical attention immediately so that the complainant can be screened for sexually transmitted diseases/pregnancy/date rape drugs, obtain emergency contraception, and receive treatment for any physical injuries.
C. The complainant has the right to accept or decline any or all parts of a medical exam. However, critical evidence may be lost or missed if not collected or analyzed.
D. Valuable physical evidence can be obtained from the complainant’s clothing. Every effort should be made to save anything that might contain the respondent’s DNA. Therefore, if at all possible, a complainant of sexual assault should not:
1. Bathe or shower;
2. Wash his or her hands;
3. Brush his or her teeth;
4. Use the restroom;
5. Change clothes;
6. Comb hair;
7. Clean up, move things, or change anything associated with the crime scene; or
8. Move anything the offender may have touched.
E. Regardless of whether the complainant has decided to report the crime, receiving a forensic medical exam and keeping the evidence safe from damage will improve the chances that law enforcement can access and test the stored evidence should the complainant choose to prosecute at a later date.
F. The complainant is encouraged to preserve evidence by saving text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, other communications, and keeping pictures, logs or other copies of documents, if any, that would be useful to investigators.
Other Helpful Resources
There are several helpful resources that provide advice on the immediate steps a victim or survivor can take. These can be accessed online, by phone, or in person. Many offer 24/7 and/or confidential assistance. Examples include:
Genesis House https://www.genesishouseinc.com/getting-help
Sexual Assault Center http://www.sacenter.org/heal/crisis-support.aspx
Tennessee Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence https://www.tncoalition.org
Tennessee District Attorneys "Domestic Violence" https://www.tndagc.org/