All individuals that have experienced sexual misconduct are strongly encouraged to preserve evidence. Evidence preservation is important in the event a survivor decides to report a crime, seek a protective/restraining order, file a civil lawsuit, or report to the University immediately after an incident occurs or at a future date.
Assistance regarding how best to preserve evidence, including information on the sexual assault forensic exam are available through 24 hour hotlines, Project Horizon, and University Health and Counseling.
How to preserve evidence depends on circumstances, but in all cases, documentation is important.
- Document dates, times, witnesses, and descriptions of incidents in a journal or log (one example of an incident log for Stalking can be found at the Stalking Resource Center)
- Save clothing that was worn at the time of an assault
- Save electronic exchanges (e.g., text messages, emails, and Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media posts, to the extent that they can be captured or preserved)
- Save photographs (including photographs stored on smartphones and other devices)
- Have any injuries documented by a medical provider
Physical Evidence Recovery Kit
A Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) is a special medical exam performed by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to collect evidence that may be helpful in a criminal prosecution or investigation of a sexual assault. SANEs have received special training in the identification, collection and documentation of forensic evidence that may be found on a victim's body or clothing.
- It will not cost you.
- You do not need to file a report with law enforcement to have a PERK. Having the exam gives you the chance to safely store evidence should you decide to report at a later time.
- A PERK is available at Augusta Health Emergency Department. Project Horizon or W&L Public Safety can arrange transportation to Augusta.
- Evidence is best collected within the first 72 hours of the assault, but an exam can reveal other forms of evidence beyond this time frame that can be useful if you decide to report.
- It is better that you do not shower, eat, drink or change your clothes before evidence is collected. Doing so may degrade the quality of important physical evidence that could be used if you decide to prosecute the assailant. It is natural to want to go through these motions after a traumatic experience. If you have done any of these activities, you can still have an exam performed and evidence may still be collected.
More information about a PERK can be found at RAINN's information page.