What can you do if you've been assaulted?

  1. Overview
  2. Sexual Violence
  3. What can you do if you've been assaulted?
Get to a safe place:

This could be your home, a friend's home, or a public place like a police station.

Preserve evidence:

If you think you might want to pursue a criminal case, you can help preserve evidence until you can have a sexual assault forensic examination by not bathing, changing your clothes, eating or drinking, combing your hair, urinating, wiping after urination, or douching. DNA evidence on your body, hair, or clothing may help police identify and arrest the assailant. If you change your clothing, place it in a clean paper bag and bring it with you. If you do shower, eat, drink, or urinate, DNA evidence may still be obtainable and you can still get an exam. 

Ask for help:

You can speak to RDVIC confidentially by calling 304-292-5100 or police by calling 911 or going to the police station. You can also talk to a trusted friend, spouse, parent, or relative to ask for help.  

Go to a hospital emergency room:

You can receive medical care for injuries, as well as medication to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. 

Get a sexual assault forensic examination:

Local hospitals are able to provide trauma-informed forensic examinations and will contact RDVIC to provide an advocate to help you understand your medical and legal options and to provide emotional support. 

Making the decision to get a forensic exam does not mean that you have to report to law enforcement if you are not sure that is what you want. The Forensic Nurse Examiner can collect evidence and send it to Marshall University where it will be stored for a minimum of two years; if you decide to report to police during this time, the kit can be sent to the state crime lab for processing. Please note  there is no statute of limitation for reporting a sexual assault in the state of WV; if it has been more that two years, you can still report to police and it may be possible that Marshall University will still have the kit , but please know this evidence can degrade over time. 

If you report to the police, do you have to prosecute?

You can have evidence collected without reporting to the police. You can choose to report at a later time. Unless you are under 18 years of age, it is your choice whether to report. Once you have reported to the police and the case is given to the prosecuting attorney, it is up to them whether to move forward. They cannot and will not force you to participate. 

Seek ongoing support:

Everyone responds to trauma differently, but everyone can benefit from ongoing support, whether from peers, professional advocates, or professional counselors. 

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