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Preservation of Evidence

Once a survivor arrives at an emergency medical facility, professionals certified in evidence collection perform a forensic exam or SAFE Kit (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam). The SAFE EXAM will sometimes not be done until the police have been called, however, calling the police or even talking with them while participating in the collection of evidence does not mean that the survivor is required to follow through on prosecution or file a formal report.

A survivor is required to sign a consent form before an exam can be performed. The evidence gathered during the forensic examination can be signed over to the police investigators and taken to the state police laboratory for analysis, or it can be held while the survivor decides if he/she wants to pursue a criminal investigation.

If you wish to complete an evidence collection kit (“SAFE kit”), you can do so at the local hospitals. An advocate from the Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP) can assist you in setting up an appointment time and explain the process to you. If you wish to report the sexual assault to the police, officers will also assist you in obtaining an exam. You can still have an exam performed, even if you do not wish to report to the police.

For evidence collection, it is best if you do not:

  • Shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Urinate
  • Eat or drink
  • Change clothes
However, the exam can be performed even if you have done some of the things listed above.

About the Exam

  • The examination is similar to a general OB/GYN exam and begins with taking information about what happened.
  • The exam is generally completed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). The overall purpose for the exam is to make sure the patient is not injured and to gather evidence from the survivor’s body. Whether the survivor is male or female, the exam includes specimens gathered from the part of the body that was assaulted including internal and external genital areas. Additionally, samples are usually obtained from fingernails, hair and mouth.
  • Survivors must sign a consent form before an exam can be done. All survivors have a right to have the examination explained prior to giving consent. Also, survivors have the right to refuse any part of the examination.
  • There is no fee for this examination although some hospitals/centers may charge for lab work, radiology services etc.
  • All survivors have the right to have an advocate present during the entire exam and hospital visit. An advocate from the Campus Violence Prevention Program or counselor from Center for Behavioral Health and Accessibility is available to accompany all survivors.
  • The examining doctor or nurse will need to ask questions about the assault in order to make decisions about the type of examination necessary. Survivors may need to answer questions that are uncomfortable regarding the types of sexual acts involved. These questions may sound intrusive but are asked in a non-judgmental manner.
  • Survivors will be examined externally to check for any signs of injury and contact. All signs of injury will be documented.
  • Photographs may be taken to document any visible trauma to the body.
  • Clothing worn by the survivor is also taken for analysis, although this does not usually include coats and shoes. When possible, survivors should bring clothing to change into following the exam. Clothing given to the police will be used for evidence and will not be returned. If you have already changed your clothing, place the clothing you had on at the time of the assault in a paper bag, preferably one item per bag. Try not to use plastic, as it can destroy evidence.
  • Hospitals will do baseline testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Some facilities will give medications/prescriptions as preventative treatment and survivors will be given information and access to emergency contraception (EC).
  • If a survivor believes he/she was drugged prior to the sexual assault, it is important to disclose that information so that a drug screen can be done. Survivors of sexual violence are granted amnesty from University discipline for drug and alcohol behavior related to their assault.


(573) 986-6899
Crisp Hall 201-202

Campus Violence Prevention Program
One University Plaza, MS 2030
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701