Physical Evidence Recovery Kits - Sexual Assault and Violence Education - Christopher Newport University

Sexual Assault and Violence Education

Physical Evidence Recovery Kits

A PERK is a special medical exam performed by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) to collect evidence that may be helpful in a criminal prosecution or investigation of a sexual assault. The PERK gathers forensic evidence and initial testing and treatment for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

SANEs have received special training in the identification, collection and documentation of forensic evidence that may be found on a victim's body or clothing, and they have received specialized education in the care of patients who have experienced sexual assault or abuse.

If you have injuries that need immediate attention, those will be taken care of first. You will be asked about your medical history and general health questions. You will also be asked about sexual activity and history. The nurse will ask you to describe the assault and ask for your help in identifying areas of potential injury or places on your body or clothing where there might be evidence.

You may receive a full-body examination, including internal examinations. Samples of blood, urine, swabs of body surfaces and sometimes hair samples are taken. Pictures may also be taken to document any injuries.

DNA evidence is not particularly useful for university investigations as the identity of the perpetrator is typically known. Other evidence that may be collected such as photographs or notes from the nurse can be useful for the university process.

If you are able, to preserve as much evidence as possible, it is best not to bathe, shower, use the bathroom, change your clothes or brush your teeth after an assault. However, you can still have an exam performed even if you have done any of these activities. You did NOT do anything wrong by bathing, showering, using the bathroom or brushing your teeth. Other useful evidence can still be collected.

Place your clothes in a paper or plastic bag to safely preserve evidence. It is important to remember that evidence cannot be stored in paper or plastic bags long-term (generally, no longer than 24 hours) because the evidence will be destroyed.

Riverside Regional Medical Center
500 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard
Newport News, Virginia 23601
(757) 594-3983 SANE number
(757) 594-2000 main hospital number

Riverside's emergency room is open 24/7 for medical care. Riverside can provide PERK services.

Bring a change of clothes with you. The nurse will collect your clothing. If you do not have a change of clothes, that is OK. The hospital will provide one for you.

In most cases, DNA evidence needs to be collected within 120 hours. But, an exam can reveal other forms of evidence beyond this timeframe that may be useful, such as photographs and documentation of injuries or pain. Photo documentation and forensic evaluation can take place anytime after a sexual assault, or dating and/or domestic violence, regardless of time since the incident took place.

No. The decision to criminally report a crime is completely yours. The Blind Reporting Law in Virginia allows victims to have a PERK done without pressing charges. Having an exam ensures that forensic evidence will be safely preserved if you decided that you want to report later. Note that health care providers are mandatory reporters and must report the assault if the victim is under 18 or if a weapon such as a knife or gun are involved.

No. The commonwealth of Virginia will pay for the exam.

You do not need to give the hospital any information about your health insurance. You are a crime victim and they will treat you without insurance. If you get a PERK, the hospital will file with the state for reimbursement for the costs of the PERK.

No, you can have anyone you want accompany you to the hospital. A trained advocate can provide support during the exam, answer questions about the exam, and connect you to resources and options after the exam is completed. If you or a friend are unable to provide transportation to Riverside Regional Hospital, assistance may be available through University Police. You can reach them at (757) 594-7777.

You can also contact The Center for Sexual Assault Survivors at (757) 599-9844 or (757) 236-5260 (crisis hotline) to request that a trained advocate accompany you.

You can change your mind and withdraw consent for the PERK at any time.

The exam itself usually takes about an hour. The entire process of obtaining history, completing paperwork, performing the exam and packaging evidence may take several hours. There may also be wait-time when you arrive at the hospital.

Yes, you will be tested for sexually transmitted infections during the PERK exam. You may also be offered prevention treatments for STIs, such as antibiotics and emergency contraceptives.

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