Relationship and Sexual ViolenceSexual ViolenceForensic Evidence
Why is it a good idea to collect evidence even if the survivor is not sure he or she wants to file a police report?
Forensic evidence includes blood, semen, hair, or debris found on the survivor’s body or on his or her clothes. It includes the medical record and photographs taken of injuries sustained during the assault.
Forensic evidence is collected by a medical provider, usually in an emergency room, up to 96 hours following a sexual assault. Columbia University students can go the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Emergency Room.
The medical exam and collection of forensic evidence are done simultaneously. Forensic evidence is placed in a “rape kit” or evidence collection kit.
Even though a survivor may be unsure about reporting to the police, survivors often want to report after they have had time to recover. Collecting forensic evidence makes it much easier to pursue a prosecution later.
Toxicology testing for “date rape drugs” is most effective within 72 hours of an assault. Results will not be analyzed unless a police report is filed.
The evidence collection kit is kept for one year. It is turned over to the police when a survivor chooses to report. It is discarded after one year.
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Sexual Violence Responseprovides comprehensive and integrated education, support and advocacy about sexual and relationship violence. The program supports survivors and fosters individual and collective action to end sexual and relationship violence. For more information go to Sexual Violence Response.
The Barnard Columbia Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center provides peer counseling and advocacy services for survivors and co-survivors of sexual and relationship violence. For more information go to the Barnard Columbia Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center.
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