Consider evidence preservation and RMC’s response:
Emergency Procedures: St. Mary’s Hospital (Main: 804.285.2011) is the Richmond area hospital that is equipped around the clock to collect forensic evidence following a sexual assault. Whether or not you choose to prosecute, after a sexual assault or rape the physical evidence needed for a prosecution should be collected immediately, ideally within the first 24 hours and usually not later than 72 – 96 hours after the incident (3-4 days).
In order not to destroy any evidence needed, it is important that you do not:
- Bathe or shower
- Brush or comb your hair
- Change clothes
- Eat or drink anything or brush or rinse your teeth if there was oral contact
- Touch items at the crime scene
- Put on makeup
Take a change of clothing to the hospital because some items of clothing may be kept as evidence. If you have changed clothes since the assault or rape, take what you were wearing at the time of the assault or rape with you in something other than a plastic bag. At the emergency room the nurse may collect hair samples, semen, and other evidence. With your permission, the police may be contacted to take possession of these samples.
Virginia law allows victims of sexual assault to go to the hospital to be treated for injuries and collect the physical evidence without a report being taken by police.
If You’ve Been Assaulted:
- Put personal safety first: make sure you are in a safe place and access the help and resources you need and deserve.
- Be kind to yourself: know that your feelings, which may be sadness, anger, and guilt, are always valid, and you deserve to take all the time and space you need to process what happened.
- Get support: reach out to your support network, meet with counselors, consider journaling, and avoid isolation.
- Practice self-care: take time to focus on breathing, eat healthy and exercise, get as much rest as you can, and relax with friends and family.
Supporting a Friend:
- Listen to them: practice active, non-judgmental listening, avoid questioning, and respond with empathy.
- Help them: offer your support as a trusted friend, protect their confidence as much as you can (and tell them if you are a mandatory reporter), and support them by learning about sexual assault and how to access resources on and off campus.
- Remind them: understand that both your friend and the student(s) accused do not deserve any discrimination, so do not confront anyone about the accusations. Know the Title IX Office will manage an objective and thorough investigation and adjudication process.
- Local Resources:
- BonSecours – 804.342.1500
- St Mary’s Forensic Nurses: Emergency Department 804.281.8184 or 804.281.8574 during normal business hours
- Hanover Safe Place
- Local Hotline: 804.752.2702
- Toll Free Hotline: 888.370.SAFE (888.370.7233)
- Action Alliance
- Safe Harbor
- 24- Hotline: 804.500.2755
- Local Number: 804.249.9470
- National Resources: