Evidence photo


The forensic system works to collect, preserve and understand evidence that can help to prove that a crime occurred and who committed it.

  • Evidence can support the survivor's statement that a sexual assault has occurred.
  • Evidence can support details of the statement such as location, use of force, and time.
  • Evidence can link the survivor and alleged perpetrator to a location but may not be able to indicate consent or lack of consent.
  • Evidence may establish the identity of a perpetrator through DNA testing.
  • Evidence can be discounted if it was obtained illegally or handled improperly.

Different types of evidence

  1. Statements:

    • The survivor's account of the assault.
    • Statement by the first person who was told of the assault.
    • Witness statements.
    • Testimony by people who collected evidence.
  2. Physical evidence:

    • Physical materials or items that connect the survivor or perpetrator to the location and circumstances of the incident. For example grass stains, dirt, or carpet fibers on clothing can link both parties to the scene.
    • Items that belong to the survivor that were taken by the perpetrator.
    • DNA evidence, including bodily fluids such as blood, semen or saliva, and other samples collected during the sexual assault exam can confirm that physical contact occurred, and may be used to identify a perpetrator.
  3. Other evidence:

    • The results of the toxicology kit, if applicable.
    • Certain records and personal communications may be taken as evidence, such as telephone bills, notes or letters, emails, or posts on blogs and other websites.
Forensics for Survivors © 2015 All Rights Reserved

This project was supported by Grant #2009-WF-AX-0014 awarded by the Violence Against Women Grants Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security Office of Grants & Research and subgranted to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center. Points of view in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice or the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety Programs Division.