Evidence Preservation


Call 911 in an Emergency or if You or Someone Else is in Imminent Danger

Caution: Please be aware that phone, tablet, computer and other device activity may be monitored. It can be safer for victims and survivors to obtain information using a device a perpetrator does not have potential access to. For more information, visit or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline • 800.799.7233 or 800.787.3224 (TTY).

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For your information: Federal and state laws and CSU/Cal State LA policies prohibit dating and domestic violence, sexual violence, stalking, and other forms of misconduct. This prohibition applies to students, employees, and others; as well as to conduct both on and off-campus. Perpetrators can be subject to campus sanctions such as suspension, expulsion, and employment termination; as well as arrest, criminal prosecution, restitution, and civil justice. Victims and survivors have numerous rights granted by federal and state laws (see Survivors' Rights). Additionally, dating and domestic violence, sexual violence and sexually motivated stalking are also considered to be Title IX violations.  

All survivors are encouraged to preserve evidence—even when not intending to report a crime (to law enforcement or campus officials). Evidence preservation is important in the event a survivor decides to report the crime or policy violation, seek a protective/restraining order, or file a civil lawsuit at a future date. Detailed evidence preservation tips, including information on the sexual assault forensic exam are available through 24-hour hotlines and law enforcement agencies. Keep in mind that if an incident is not going to be immediately reported to law enforcement or campus officials, evidence should be kept in a safe place where a perpetrator is not likely to discover it.

Please note: although evidence preservation is encouraged, every survivor has the right to choose to preserve evidence or decline to preserve evidence.

For phone and online chat assistance, contact the:

  • Safe Helpline • Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community: 877.995.5247 

Evidence Preservation Immediately After the Crime

It may be difficult to do, but while a survivor is waiting for law enforcement it is very important not to: disturb the location where the crime occurred; change clothes; clean up; bathe or shower; go to the bathroom; douche; delete messages; throw away unwanted items; clean up vandalized property; or anything else that may lead to loss of evidence, especially DNA evidence.

Help 24/7 ►  |  National Domestic Violence Hotline  |  National Human Trafficking Hotline  |  National Sexual Assault Hotline  |  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  |  National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline  |  Safe Helpline - Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community  |  The Trevor Project Helpline for LGBT Youth (Ages 13-24)  |


General Evidence Preservation

How evidence is preserved depends on circumstances. In all cases, documentation is important—documenting dates, times, witnesses, and descriptions of incidents in a journal or log. Also of importance is saving: clothing that was worn at the time of an assault in separate paper bags; threatening texts and emails; screenshots of online posts; and other evidence, such as unwanted gifts. Have injuries documented by a medical provider. Taking and saving pictures of injuries or vandalized property is also helpful.

If an incident is not going to be immediately reported to law enforcement or campus officials, evidence should be kept in a safe place where a perpetrator is not likely to discover it.

Help 24/7 ►  |  National Domestic Violence Hotline  |  National Human Trafficking Hotline  |  National Sexual Assault Hotline  |  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  |  National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline  |  Safe Helpline - Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community  |  The Trevor Project Helpline for LGBT Youth (Ages 13-24)  |


Evidence Preservation for Sexual Violence and Misconduct Survivors

Survivors of sexual misconduct and violence are encouraged to preserve evidence by avoiding showering, douching, changing clothes, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, throwing out sheets, eating or drinking; and anything else that may alter or destroy evidence; and then completing a sexual assault forensic exam as soon as possible after the assault. For the greatest chances of collecting DNA evidence, the sexual assault forensic exam is typically performed within 72 hours of an assault, however, certain hospitals and centers, such as the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica • UCLA Medical Center perform the exam up to 120 hours (5 days) after an assault.

For survivors who do not wish to report their sexual assaults to law enforcement, federal and state laws make the forensic exam available to survivors at no cost with no obligation to file a report with law enforcement, enabling immediate evidence collection and preservation while at the same time giving victims time to consider how they want to proceed.

When sexual assaults are reported to law enforcement, the responding agency will assist survivors in obtaining the forensic exam, if desired. Survivors may also contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.4673 to obtain the location of the nearest hospital which conducts the exam. If desired, survivors have the right to have an advocate from a local domestic and sexual violence treatment center and another support person of their choice present at the forensic exam.

Local hospitals and clinics offering 24-hour sexual assault forensic exams and other care include:

  • Rape Treatment Center at the UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica: 1250 Sixteenth Street, Santa Monica, CA 90404 | Phone: 424.259.6000, extension '0' - request rape hotline from the hospital operator

Help 24/7 ►  |  National Domestic Violence Hotline  |  National Human Trafficking Hotline  |  National Sexual Assault Hotline  |  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  |  National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline  |  Safe Helpline - Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community  |  The Trevor Project Helpline for LGBT Youth (Ages 13-24)  |


Additional Information and Resources

Help 24/7 ►  |  National Domestic Violence Hotline  |  National Human Trafficking Hotline  |  National Sexual Assault Hotline  |  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  |  National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline  |  Safe Helpline - Sexual Assault Support for the DoD Community  |  The Trevor Project Helpline for LGBT Youth (Ages 13-24)  |