Why is it important to collect evidence, even if you do not file charges?
Girls who have been, or fear they may have been, the victim of acute sexual violence because they passed out and can’t remember exactly what happened face a very difficult situation. Having to decide what steps to take next, for example, whether to go to the police and file charges, can be too difficult for many people.
In Bielefeld, girls can decide to have evidence collected without filing charges, so that they have more time to think about their next steps without the danger that evidence may be lost which could be used later to prosecute a crime. It is important to have any evidence collected as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours. , especially, can only be detected for a short time by a doctor, through a urine sample.
How can I have evidence collected, without filing charges?
You can go to one of the three Bielefeld hospitals listed below at any time of the day or night, including on the weekend. You can report to the central emergency room. When you get there, tell them you would like to have evidence collected, without filing charges. The exam will be completed in the gynecological outpatient department.
Even if it is difficult, it is best if you do not shower before the exam and do not change your clothes. Otherwise, evidence may be lost. You should also bring tissues and hygiene items to the hospital with you, if they have come into contact with the perpetrator, or any other evidence.
You can always take someone with you when you go.
What will happen during the exam?
Before you are examined, the doctor will explain in detail what they are going to do. The exam will take around an hour. Your clothing will be examined as well. You will also receive medical care, in addition to securing the evidence. For example, you will receive treatment to prevent infections and will be advised about taking the ‘morning-after pill’. In order to prevent infections, you will be tested for sexually-transmitted diseases, and may receive treatment, such as medication.
The exam is absolutely confidential.
Will my parents be informed?
Girls 16 years of age and older can decide themselves whether to inform their parents. If you are younger than 14, the doctor has to inform your parents. For girls between 14 and 16, girls do not have to inform their parents if the doctor believes that the girl is able to understand what has happened to her.
Do I have to file charges?
No. You alone decide whether and when to file charges. You don’t have to make the decision during or before your exam – any evidence of a crime will be stored for at least two years, and treated as absolutely confidential. Having evidence collected without filing charges gives you time to make your decision.
If you decide to file charges right away during the examination, the doctor will take the necessary steps. If you decide to file charges later on, then the police will pick up and use the evidence that was collected along with the doctor's report. Your express consent is required in this case.
If you do not file charges, the material will be kept for at least two years, then destroyed.
Does it cost anything to collect evidence without filing charges?
Collecting evidence without filing charges is free..
Where can I get support?
It is a good idea to get help and support to deal with everything you have experienced, instead of trying to do it on your own. If you have questions, or if you feel depressed, we are here for you – no matter whether you decide to file charges or not, or are still undecided about what to do. You can also contact the person, by phone or using the online advising tool.
We work on behalf of girls and women, and support you in regaining your safety and protection.
Who will support me if I do decide to file charges?
Trained facilitators work at the counseling center of the Mädchenhaus Bielefeld e.V., and they are very familiar with criminal proceedings. If you decide to file charges, a facilitator can advise and support you before, during, and after the hearing. They can support you as you make your statement to the police, to an attorney, and during court proceedings as well. During process support, they will not talk with you about what happened to you.
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