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SSV Collab


 Working together to stop sexual violence

Sexual Assault Response Guide

Without vital evidence, many sexual offenders walk free. Let’s change that.

The Sexual Assault Response Guide empowers victims to collect evidence following a sexual assault and encourages them to seek early support from a trusted person and a medical professional. Due to trauma, fear and other reasons, many victims will delay reporting their assault to police and consequently, critical evidence may be lost.

The guide will help preserve the chain of evidence, provide more support for victims and hopefully lead to higher conviction rates for sexual offences.

Please share the guide so everyone, everywhere knows how to collect evidence if they experience a sexual assault. Let’s work together to bring offenders to justice and stop sexual violence.

You are welcome to share this infographic for personal and educational (not commercial) purposes if you provide attribution to SSV Collab.

Disclaimer: Information provided by SSV Collab is for general informational purposes only. It is not, does not purport to be and should not be relied upon as legal advice. All information is provided in good faith, however, SSV Collab makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability or completeness of any information provided by SSV Collab. If you have any concerns regarding your legal rights, or need to access medical or psychological support, you should consult appropriately qualified professionals.

Looking for more information about the guide?

FAQs

What we are working towards

The Sexual Assault Response Guide is a SSV Collab and Erin Cash initiative. Our goal is to:

  • empower victims to collect vital physical evidence if they decide to delay reporting to police
  • normalise seeking support from a trusted person immediately following a sexual assault
  • normalise seeking medical advice from a GP who can provide treatment, advice and support.

Note, both your support person and GP can potentially provide further support as witnesses if/when the matter goes to court.

“Many people may feel isolated, ashamed and worried they will not be believed following the trauma of a sexual assault. It’s important we normalise reaching out for help to ensure victims feel supported and safe to talk about the event. Most people will feel more comfortable talking to a friend or someone they trust rather than an authority figure when disclosing a very private trauma.”

 

– Lucretia, SSV Collab Founder

FAQs

Collecting Evidence

Why is collecting evidence so important?

Many sexual assault cases will not make it to court and many prosecutions will fail due to a lack of physical evidence. This guide will help victims provide police with more evidence and information to support their case. All evidence should be supplied to police as soon as possible after the assault.

What are people most likely to do if they are raped/sexually assaulted?

In most cases (90%)open in new window icon, people will defer reporting, get to a safe place and shower or wash themselves repeatedly because they will feel so violated and dirty.

Shouldn’t police collect the evidence?

Approximately 90% of peopleopen in new window icon will not immediately report their sexual assault or rape to police. Instead, they will frequently go home and shower or wash themselves repeatedly and delay reporting until they feel emotionally ready. This means vital physical evidence is lost. This guide enables people to collect evidence using easy-to-follow steps so they can provide it to police when they are ready to report.

Aren’t they supposed to do a rape kit?

Ideally, you should report to police and attend hospital as soon as possible after an attack so a rape kit can be conducted by a medical professional. However, we know that 90% of peopleopen in new window icon will defer reporting to police so this guide will help ensure vital evidence is still collected.

Will a person who has been recently raped or sexually assaulted be able to follow all the steps in the guide?

Someone who has been sexually assaulted or raped may feel too traumatised to collect the physical evidence. However, their support person will be able to help them. That is why it is important everyone in the community knows what steps to take in this situation. 

Will evidence collected in this way be admissible in court?

While the continuity of evidence may be questioned, the DNA could be carbon dated. The sooner physical evidence is lodged, the less the chain of evidence can be disputed.

The more evidence the police have and the sooner they have it, the better the chance of a successful arrest and prosecution.

How long will the evidence be good for? How does it need to be stored?

We encourage people to provide police with the physical evidence they have collected as soon as possible after the attack. It should be collected as described in the guide and stored in a plastic bag in a secure place free from dust, moisture and frequent disturbance.

Will this physical evidence guarantee a conviction?

A lack of physical evidence is a key reason why many sexual assault and rape charges are dropped. Collecting evidence will give police more information to work with and provide a better chance of conviction

Why do we need to do all those steps in the Collect box?

These steps will help ensure vital physical evidence is collected and stored quickly and easily. 

Why does the victim need to wipe themselves over with a towel?

The towel will absorb any bodily fluids from the perpetrator that have been left on the victim’s body. This can be used for DNA evidence. 

When you say “everything you are wearing”, do you mean shoes and jewellery as well as clothing?

Yes. Bits of skin, bodily fluids and other evidence may be caught in jewellery and on shoes so it is important they are also collected. 

If I don't collect evidence can I still report an sexual assault?

Yes. For more information read this article.

Support following a sexual assault

It is important to reach out for support if you have experienced a sexual assault. 

Why should you contact someone you trust after the assault?

Many people may feel isolated, ashamed and worried they will not be believed following the trauma of a sexual assault. It’s important we normalise reaching out for help to ensure victims feel supported and safe to talk about the event. Most people will feel more comfortable talking to a friend or someone they trust rather than an authority figure when disclosing a very private trauma.

We recommend victims contact a friend, family member or someone else who can support them. 

What is the best way to support someone who has experienced a sexual assault?

If someone contacts for you for support following a sexual assault, it is important that you listen and believe them, don’t pressure them for details and support them to take whatever action feels right for them. Remember, they don’t have to report the assault if they don’t want to. It is important they feel empowered to make their own decisions. 

Why should you go to a GP following a sexual assault?

Accessing medical support provides victims with professional physical and mental wellbeing support. The GP can also be a witness and provide evidence if the matter goes to court.

Still have questions?

Stop Sexual Violence Collaboration (SSV Collab)

Working together to stop sexual violence

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