As more sexual assault convictions occur, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at Memorial Medical Center - Livingston are providing information to protect community members and prevent these crimes. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, a person is sexually assaulted every 2 minutes in the United States.
“Most times we think of a sexual predator as someone we don’t know. We even focus on teaching our kids stranger danger,” said Connie Blalock, RN and SANE Coordinator at Memorial. “In fact, eighty percent of perpetrators in sexual assault cases are by a close family friend or relative of the victim.”
Sexual assault in children may go undetected until the child makes an outcry. An outcry is when a child shares their victimization story with another person. Many victims do not have physical trauma because the perpetrator doesn’t want anyone to know. While building trust with the victim, SANE nurses accumulate any physical evidence along with the child’s history recollection.
During an examination, a SANE will formulate diagnoses, plan of care and treatment specifically for that individual patient. The collection of information is shared with local law enforcement, District Attorney, SAAFE House, Child Protective Services and Childrenz Haven. Adults on the other hand can come to the hospital emergency department, receive treatment and the victim is not required to report the assault if so chooses.
“SANE nurses receive extensive, specialized training through the Office of the Attorney General. Many hours of class, clinical and courtroom training certify nurses on sexualassault. Memorial currently has 4 certified SANE nurses and 4 more that have completed training and are working on the clinical portion,” stated Blalock.
Through generous donations and grants from the Peace Officers Association, SAAFE House, Memorial Medical Center – Livingston and others in the community, the hospital is constructing a SANE suite giving comfort and privacy to the victim. Technologically advanced equipment provides examiners with information that leads to more guilty pleas or convictions for the defendants. The program operates under the leadership of Dr. Ed Waechter, Obstetrician and Gynecologist and SANE Medical Director.
“In the past, many sexual assault victims have not received the proper examinations because they would have to drive out of the community to a location that has a SANE program,” said Blalock. “Memorial Medical Center – Livingston wants to make a difference in the lives of the women and children in Polk County and surrounding areas who may be experiencing or who will in the future experience sexual abuse.”
Ways to protect yourself and your children from sexual predators include:
- Talk to your children about abuse
- Listen to children and ask questions
- Trust your instincts
- Have a code word with friends to help you leave an uncomfortable situation
- Be aware of your surroundings
- Never leave beverages unattended
- Have a buddy system
Memorial Medical Center - Livingston encourages you to be safe. If you are a victim of a sexual assault crime, please seek medical attention.