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.
wibw.com Extended Web Coverage
Source: National Victims of Crime (www.nvc.org) Contributed to this report