What is a SANE?
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is an RN who has been specifically trained to:
- Provide comprehensive care to sexual assault patients;
- Demonstrate competency in conducting a medical forensic exam to include evaluation for evidence collection;
- Have the expertise to provide effective courtroom testimony; and
- Show compassion and sensitivity to survivors of sexual assault.
Will the sexual assault medical forensic exam “prove” I have been sexually assaulted?
The presence or absence of physical evidence does not prove whether a person has been sexually assaulted. Rather, the examination may provide supportive evidence to be used during legal proceedings. A SANE examination is one piece of information in a community effort by healthcare, advocates, local law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute a reported case of sexual assault.
Are sexual assault medical forensic exams performed on adults and children?
Yes. Many of the evidence collection issues apply equally to adult and child survivors of sexual assault/abuse. However, there are particular issues regarding the interviewing and medical examination needs of children that differ from those of adults.
What happens during a sexual assault medical forensic exam?
Once consent is obtained from the patient, a medical history is taken by the SANE to determine injuries and appropriate medical treatment for the patient. The next step is a head-to-toe examination, including the genital area, in order for the SANE to document trauma to any part of the body. Last, a collection of forensic evidence is done using a sexual assault evidence kit.
Does a SANE treat injuries such as broken bones, internal bleeding, cuts requiring stitches, etc.?
No. A SANE will refer the sexual assault victim/survivor to an emergency room.
How does a SANE program benefit a sexual assault survivor?
It is vital to a victim’s recovery to be treated properly while the evidence is collected. It is also vital to the survivor’s recovery and the prosecution of the offender that forensic evidence be properly collected.
It has been noted that survivors heal faster when treated properly by someone who is trained to be a sexual assault examiner. In addition, victims are more likely to follow through with the prosecution of criminal cases when they have received compassionate treatment from the same caregivers throughout the exam.
How does a SANE Program benefit a community?
With accurate evidence collection and more prosecutions, more sexual assault felons will be incarcerated rather than offending more victims, thus making for a healthier community. The message that a survivor receives when a SANE program is developed is: Sexual assault is a problem for the entire community, not just victims and local sexual assault programs.
The mental health and physical well-being of sexual assault victims are important to the community. Support for professionals to receive special training to learn how to properly collect forensic evidence is important to community leaders to ensure a higher conviction rate of sex offenders. In addition, support is provided to ensure a SANE Program continues.