If you have experienced a physical or sexual assault by a stranger or someone you know the assault is not your fault! Help is available for you. Your first priority is to find a safe place. If you fear for your immediate safety please call 9-1-1 immediately. Once you are in a safe place our team is available to help you over the phone and in-person to access:
- the hospital for medical treatment
- the police to report a crime
- a transition house or safe shelter
We can accompany you to the hospital after a physical or sexual assault.
After an assault, survivors may have serious injuries without visible signs or symptoms.
Getting medical help after an assault is one of the most important things you can do to empower yourself.
If you have been choked, strangled or have difficulty breathing, swallowing or speaking, go to the hospital immediately.
Know your rights
You have the right to make choices about your medical treatment after an assault.
With your consent, medical treatment can include any or all of the following:
- Collection of your medical history;
- External exam of your body for physical injuries;
- Internal exam of your body for physical injuries;
- Treatment and documentation of injuries
- Pregnancy prophylaxis (Plan B)
- Sexually transmitted infection (STI) treatment
Specially trained forensic nurses are also trained in the collection of forensic evidence such as DNA, blood and semen.
Collection of Evidence
After an assault, important forensic evidence such as DNA, blood or semen may be present on your body, clothing, shoes or other personal effects. This evidence can help police during their investigation of a crime and can assist a Crown prosecutor in their prosecution of an assault.In addition to the evidence that may be found during a forensic exam, a forensic nurse can be called to testify as an expert witness in criminal court cases.
Don’t know if you want to make a police report? If you are undecided and want to learn more about your legal options, or call 604-589-2812 to speak to a smart worker.
You can choose to collect forensic evidence even if you do not make a police report. The hospital can store forensic evidence for up to 1 year. For more information about storing forensic evidence, please read below.
Tips to Preserve and Protect Evidence
Here are a few tips to preserve and protect evidence:
- Avoid changing your clothes or shoes.
- Avoid showering or washing any parts of your body.
- Avoid drinking, eating, combing your hair or brushing your teeth.
- Avoid urinating or defecating.
- Avoid wiping as valuable evidence will be removed. If wiping is unavoidable please save the tissue. Store it in a paper bag and bring it with you to the hospital.
- Avoid cleaning up or moving anything the person who assaulted you has touched.
- If available, bring any clothing, towels or bedding that may contain evidence in a clean paper bag.
These are only tips. Evidence may still be available if you have showered, used the bathroom, changed your clothing, etc.
Storing Forensic Evidence
You can choose to collect forensic evidence even if you do not make a police report. The hospital can store forensic evidence for up to 1 year.
If you decide to make a police report at a later date, contact our SMART team or forensic nurses at the hospital to release evidence to the police at any time within the year. If we do not hear from you, our smart worker will contact you at the end of the year to discuss your options.
Forensic nurses can provide medications to prevent pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault as part of the forensic medical exam.
If you become pregnant as a result of a sexual assault our SMART team can help you explore your options.
Women who choose to deliver and care for a child conceived as a result of a sexual assault may be eligible for monthly financial support benefits through the BC Crime Victim Assistance Program.
Women who choose to terminate a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault can choose to collect and/or store evidence during the termination.
Call 604-583-1295 to speak with a support worker if you are considering your options. You do not have to go to the hospital or make a police report to use our services.