By Wendy Smith
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual violence is defined as someone being forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Sexual crimes are widespread, and affect males, females, children, adults, and the elderly.
There are many types of sexual violence which, according to National Sexual Violence Resource Center, include: rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.
Sexual violence is very traumatic to victims. Disclosing information about the event(s) is not always easy, and so the amount of events that go unreported outnumber those that are reported. Sexual assault victims that do come forward to seek medical and/or legal help require special attention.
To help meet the needs of sexually abused individuals, the SANE program or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program has been training registered nurses to treat sexual assault victims for many years. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are registered nurses who have received special training so that they may provide comprehensive and specialized care to sexual assault victims in a medical setting. These expert nurses offer prompt and compassionate care, while being careful to preserve dignity and reduce psychological trauma. According to Dr. Derek Robinson, Executive Director of the Quality Care Institute IHI, (as written in Volume 12 No 2 of Illinois Epic)“Having SANE’s involved in the care provides the most effective way to meet the survivor’s need for compassionate care, delivered by professionals with the time and training necessary to care for the physical and emotional needs of survivors.”
SANE’s work within a network of interdisciplinary professionals, called a Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART. Besides SANEs, the SARTs include advocates, police, and prosecutors. The team’s goal is to assure that the response to sexual assault cases is victim-centered, compassionate, and has the best chance at bringing justice.
Passavant Area Hospital is designated as the Illinois Region 3 SANE Hospital. The Emergency Room is staffed with 5 SANE nurses and has offered trained SANEs to Jacksonville and the surrounding communities since 2001. Emergency Room Director Dr. Scott Boston has great things to say about Passavant’s efforts, stating: “the SANE program at Passavant area hospital provides excellent service for people in a time of great need both physically and emotionally. We have some especially gifted nurses that give of themselves to help this very special patient population.”
Passavant has received exemplary recognition for its SANE program. The American Nurses Credentialing Center recognized that the SANE program goes above and beyond what may be expected of a hospital the size and location of Passavant in its most recent Magnet evaluation of Passavant.
This year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month Campaign is focused on preventing sexual violence on college campuses. In recognition of this month and its goals to educate students about sexual violence, Illinois College, Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault, and Passavant Hospital are sponsoring the 7th Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes walk on Saturday, April 19. For this event, men are encouraged to walk a mile in high heel shoes. Funds raised at the event will benefit Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault, a local not-for-profit agency that provides comprehensive sexual assault services to sexual assault and sexual abuse victims (survivors), their families, and their friends including counseling and advocacy.