Sexual Assault and Prevention Month

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Source:  Diane Faugno, MSN, General Section Retired Fellow

April is the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The chances of being a sexual assault victim in your lifespan are high. Statics often quote one in three females and one in six males will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, this is a crime that often goes unreported. Currently, evidence collection is much better, DNA is easier to identify, and some communities have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs). SANE is a qualification for forensic nurses who have received special training to conduct sexual assault evidentiary exams for rape victims. There are different goals for the team members who are part of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). The role of the SANE nurse is to collect the evidence, document the evidence, provide a comprehensive examination, and testify in court as needed.

One way to encourage members in your community to report these crimes is to begin by believing them. I often hear comments such as, “I did not think anyone would believe me,” He told me no one would believe me,” “I was scared,” or “I did not know what to do.” If one has a heart attack and goes to the emergency room, the medical staff would believe them, but if a person is a rape victim and goes to the emergency room, that person is often not believed.

The reporting of this crime will never increase if we as a community do not begin believing.

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