SANE Response to Sexual Assault

A sexual assault is traumatic enough, but everything that happens once a victim comes forward can add to the emotion.

That's why Stormont-Vail started its SANE/SART program. It stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner - Sexual Assault Response Team.

The focal point is a calm room designed to get sexual assault victims away from the chaos of the emergency room, where they used to sit in the past.

"It wasn't that we didn't think they were important, but if there were life-threatening problems going on, they had to wait for a nurse," explains SANE/SART supervisor Joy Thomas, RN.

That was before SANE/SART.

"The point of it was that it would be more of a one-stop place where they didn't have to go to different places, where they didn't have to come here and tell their story, go to law enforcement and tell their story," said Beth Compton, sexual assault counselor for the YWCA's Battered Women's Task Force. "They could just come here and everyone would come to them."

These days, sexual assault victims are immediately taken to a private room with calming images for adult victims and stuffed animals for children. A designated team of nurses specially trained in collecting evidence is on-call to respond. They take swabs, samples, and pictures with a culpascope, a special magnifying camera.

"We can see scrapes, bruises, abrasions that we may not have seen in the past because it magnifies things fifteen times," Thomas said.

The program's meant more free time for officers.

"Law enforcement has to stay here until a nurse examiner gets here. We get a report and then they are free to leave," Thomas said. "Instead of possibly five or six hours off the street, they're maybe off an hour to an hour and a half."

In addition, direct connections between the nurses and advocates mean a big boost to victims.

"This program is much more effective than just coming in, whereas if you broke your arm, you would be doing the same thing as if you were sexually assaulted," Compton said.

It's treatment that puts victims on the road to recovery and justice.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. You can join in taking a stand at a rally at 7 p.m. on April 26 at Washburn University's Student Union.

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Rape Statistics

  • In the United States, 1.3 women are raped every minute.

  • 78 rapes happen each hour, 1,872 rapes each day, 56,160 rapes each month and 683,280 rapes each year.

  • Rapes increased from 110 per thousand in 1998 to 141 per thousand in 1999, a 20 percent increase.

  • One in seven women will be raped by her husband.

  • More than 61 percent of all rape cases are victims less than 18-years-old. And, 22 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24.

  • One in four college women have either been raped or suffered attempted rape.

  • There are 75 percent of male students and 55 percent of female students involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking or using drugs.

  • More than 31 percent of all victims develop Rape-Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (RR-PTSD) sometime in their lifetimes.

  • When compared with non-victims, rape victims have been found to be 8.7 times more likely to attempt suicide.

  • Only 16 percent of rapes are ever reported to the police.

  • In a survey of victims who did not report rape or attempted rape to the police, the following was found as to why no report was made: 43 percent thought nothing could be done, 27 percent felt it was a private matter, 12 percent were afraid of police response, and 12 percent felt it was not important enough.

Source: National Victims of Crime (www.nvc.org) Contributed to this report


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