Steps to take if you have been raped

  1. Get to a safe place.
    The first thing you should do is to get yourself to a safe place.
  2. Tell some what has happened.
    Once you are in a safe place, tell the first person you see what has happened or contact someone you know and trust and tell them what happened. Whilst this is likely to be very difficult, it is very important because this person can help with the police investigation and later support your story in court. They are known as the first contact witness.
  3. Preserve evidence of the rape.
    The one thing you may want to do is wash. If you do, you run the risk of washing away all physical evidence of the rape. Therefore DO NOT BATHE, SHOWER OR WASH YOUR CLOTHES. Doing this would get rid of blood, semen, saliva or hair that could be used as evidence of the rape. If you are injured, go straight to your nearest hospital, community health centre or doctor.
  4. Decide whether you want to report the rape.
    You do not have to decide immediately whether to report the rape to the Police, but the sooner a doctor examines you, the more likely they are to find physical evidence that they can link to the rapist. If you decide to report the rape to the Police, you should go to your nearest police station. The Police will take you to a health centre where you will receive medical attention and undergo a forensic examination. If you do not report the rape to Police, you can go directly to a health centre to get these services.

Forensic medical examination after a sexual assault:

If you are thinking about reporting to the Police, you can choose to have a forensic medical examination.

The examination is done to gather evidence that can:

  • confirm the type of sexual assault that occurred;
  • support your explanation of what took place; and
  • help identify the person who sexually assaulted you.

This examination is most useful within 72 hours of the rape or sexual assault.

However, it can be done up to 1 week after the assault. A doctor or nurse will collect evidence. Before collecting evidence, the doctor or nurse will talk with you about the examination and give you time to ask questions about it.

You have the right to say yes or no to the collection of any samples.

The doctor or nurse can collect evidence such as swabs and clothing to find DNA from the person who has assaulted you. DNA may be passed on to you via semen, saliva or touch. Blood and urine may be collected to look for drugs and/or alcohol if that has been a part of the assault. Evidence also includes detailed documentation of your injuries and photography of these injuries with your consent.

Making a decision about contacting police is often difficult. The Doctor can offer a ‘just in case’ forensic medical examination. Evidence is collected and stored safely until you make a decision within a 12 month period.

What happens to the forensic evidence collected during the examination?

If you are 16 and over you can consent to a Forensic medical examination with Yarrow Place.

If you decide to:

  1. Ask the police to investigate your complaint.
    The police will take the evidence to the Forensic Science Centre. The scientists will examine the evidence that was collected and provide the results and a report to the police. It can take some time for this to be done.
  2. Have evidence collected and stored securely while you decide whether or not to ask the police to investigate your complaint – (‘just in case forensic examination’)
    The evidence will be stored securely by Yarrow Place for 12 months from the date of collection. This means that you have 12 months in which the evidence will be available if you decide to ask the police to investigate your complaint.

You can contact the police at any stage after an assault, even many years later, but the evidence will only be available for 12 months from the time of collection.

Preserving forensic evidence

Sometimes people choose to delay the forensic medical examination because they have more pressing needs such as arranging childcare or needing to have a sleep.
The following information is provided to let you know what you can do to maximise the successful collection of forensic evidence when the examination is done, if there is to be a delay.


Some evidence may be lost if you shower or wash before the examination. If you can, it is better not to wash before the examination. It is very normal to want to have a shower or wash, so if you need to, try not to wash the areas that have been involved in the assault. For example, don’t wash your breast if you have been ‘kissed’ there during the assault, or if you were anally or vaginally raped, do not wash these areas.


If you need to urinate (‘do a wee’), press your underpants to your external genitalia (vagina or penis) before removing them and going to the toilet. If you can, try not to use your bowels (‘do a poo’) if you have been anally raped. If you do have to go, press your underpants to the anus before removing them and going to the toilet.


Please keep the clothing worn at the time of the assault in separate paper bags and do not wash it.

What if I am in a country area and would like a forensic medical service?

If you are in a country area, this service is offered by Country Health SA at some general hospitals. Contact your local police for further details.


Yarrow Place

Phone: (08) 8226-8777 or 1800 817 421 (freecall).

  • After hours, contact: (08) 8226 8787
  • Provides counselling and support for those who have experienced sexual assault and who were aged 16 years or more at the time of the assault.

Domestic violence services

Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway Services

Phone: 1800 800 098 (24/7).

  • Counselling for adults and children who have experienced domestic violence, and their concerned friends
  • Counselling for people who commit domestic violence

Domestic Violence Crisis Service

Phone: 1300 782 200 (24/7).

  • Crisis counselling, support, and referral to safe accommodation.

Reporting abuse

To discuss concerns or to report child abuse, contact Families South Australia: Child Abuse Report Line: 131 478 (24/7).

To report sexual assault, domestic or family violence to the Police, contact the Police Assistance Line: 131 444, or the Police Sexual Assault Unit: 8463 7600.

Family violence incidents can be reported to the South Australia Police Family Violence Investigation Section (FVIS). To report an emergency, call 000 and ask for Police.

The SAPOL website has some useful information about domestic violence, and about child protection.

Legal support

Women’s Legal Service

Phone: (08) 8221 5553 or 1800 816 349, TTY: 1800 670 864.

  • Free and confidential legal advice, assistance, referrals and representation for women in South Australia

Other support services

Crisis Care

Phone: 131 611

  • After hours crisis support for violence and abuse, suicide, and child protection
  • 4pm – 9am weekdays, 24 hours weekends

Women’s Information Service of South Australia

Phone: (08) 8303 0590 or 1800 188 158

  • Information for South Australian women online, over the phone, or in person
  • Family life, relationships, domestic/family violence, sexual assault, health and wellbeing, accommodation and housing issues, financial security and independence, women’s groups and events, education training and career paths.
This information is for general advice only. It is not designed to replace legal advice. The material in this document does not constitute legal, accounting or other professional advice. While reasonable care has been taken in its preparation, the Matthews Lawyers does not make any express or implied representations or warranties as to the completeness, currency, reliability or accuracy of the material in this document. This document should not be used or relied upon as a substitute for professional advice or as a basis for formulating business decisions. To the extent permitted by law, Matthews Lawyers excludes all liability for any loss or damage arising out of the use of the material in this document. The opinions of those quoted do not necessarily represent the view of Matthews Lawyers