Procedures to Follow When a Sex Offense Occurs
For a person subjected to a sexual offense, especially an act of sexual assault, there can be time-sensitive decisions to make about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and collecting physical evidence in the event of prosecution. Victims of sexual offenses are advised to follow the steps below and are also encouraged to download "Resources, Rights, and Otptions for Victims of Sexual Offenses".
Protect Yourself - Find a safe place as soon as possible.
Contact Someone You Trust - You may wish to ask a trusted friend or family member to assist and support you.
Get Medical Attention -Seek medical attention immediately. Injuries and exposure to disease may not be immediately apparent. A medical examination can provide necessary treatment and collect important evidence. It is recommended that a physical exam be conducted within 72 hours of the incident in order to adequately preserve evidence. Survivors of a sexual assault are encouraged to go to the UMass Memorial Hospital Emergency Department (119 Belmont Street, Worcester, MA 01605), before washing yourself or your clothing. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (a specially trained nurse) at UMass Memorial Hospital is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (call the Emergency Department at 508-334-6481, if you first want to speak to the nurse). A representative from the University and/or a support person can also accompany you to the hospital and University Police can provide transportation if necessary. If you go to the hospital, local police will be called, but you are not obligated to talk to the police or to prosecute. The exam will help to keep that option open for you, should you decide later to exercise it. The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, and address the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.
Try to Preserve Physical Evidence - It is important to preserve all physical evidence following an act of sexual violence. Physical evidence may be necessary in the event criminal prosecution is pursued. If possible, a victim should not to wash, eat, drink, shower, use the bathroom, or change clothes. If clothes are changed, all clothes that were worn at the time of the incident should not be cleaned and should be placed into a clean paper bag. Do not disturb the crime scene. Leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
Health and Support Services - Various health and support services are available on campus and off campus for victims of sexual violence and other sexual offenses. Please also see "Resources, Rights, and Options for Victims of Sexual Offenses".
Report the Incident - Clark strongly encourages victims of sexual offenses to discuss what happened so they can get the support they need, and so the University can respond appropriately to assist the victim and help ensure the safety of other members of the Clark community. Please see Clark's Sexual Offenses Policy for reporting options.