Following an incident of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking.
It is important to preserve evidence of any offense – it may be necessary proof to obtain a protection order or to prosecute the offender.
1. Sexual Assault
a. Forensic evidence collection is best done within 72 hours of the assault and best collected immediately following an assault. The state of Florida will collect evidence up to 120 hours following an assault; however, it is important to remember that the more time passes between the sexual assault and collecting the evidence, the less likely it will be to collect physical evidence that may be very important to the prosecution of a criminal case.
b. To preserve evidence in the case of sexual assault, it is recommended that you do not shower or bathe, wash your hands, use the toilet, douche, eat, drink, smoke, brush your teeth, change clothing, or wash clothing or bedding before a medical exam. Even if you have already taken any of these actions, evidence may still be collected, and you are encouraged to have prompt medical care.
c. If you wish to make a report to the police, or if you wish to have evidence collected so you can make this decision later, you may seek services by calling the Tampa Police Department (813) 231-6130 or Campus Safety (813) 257-7777 and requesting transportation to the Crisis Center, or contacting the Crisis Center of Hillsborough directly at (813) 234-1234. The Crisis Center facilitates sexual assault forensic examinations for the city of Tampa.
d. It is preferred that a police department facilitates the collection of forensic evidence on site. However, if you are not sure if you would like to report to the police or if it has been longer than 72 hours after the assault, you may wish to gather all clothing and bedding that may be used for evidence and place them into a clean paper bag or clean sheet. Items should be stored at room temperature that will not damage evidence. The Victim Advocate program at UT can provide replacement bedding by calling their hotline at (813) 257-3900.
2. Dating or Domestic Violence
In the case of dating violence and domestic violence, the resource you choose to report the crime to (a doctor, the police, an advocate, etc.) may recommend ways to preserve evidence such as logging incidents, photographing injuries, seeking medical care, etc.
Stalking is demonstrated through a pattern of unwanted contact. Find out how to document stalking. In addition to logging unwanted contact, an advocate or police officer may recommend you save and photograph unwanted text messages, emails, letters and gifts, and store them in a secure location.
Adapted from http://womenscenter.boisestate.edu/support-2/get-help-for-sexual-assault/reporting-sexual-assault