During National Nurses Week this week, The Women’s Center honors Tarrant County’s SANE nurses (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners). These “angels” are the epitome of patient support, responsible for not only preserving the dignity of the victim, but for collecting evidence that links the victim and the suspect. *
SANE nurses are highly trained and highly skilled in forensic evidence collection with both children and adults. It is a specialty that requires them to work with some of the most severely traumatized individuals a nurse can encounter. Many times, victims are re-traumatized just being examined, having to relive the assault. SANE nurses are trained to be sensitive to the victims’ needs, understanding both their emotional and physical trauma.
Among the many duties they perform:
- Physical examination of the victim
- Collect evidence
- Treat minor injuries such as cuts/bruises
- Give expert testimony regarding the forensic evidence collected
- Serve on SART (Sexual Assault Response Team)
- Work closely with law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor’s office
- Support the psychological needs of the victim
The SANE nurse program began in 1976 in the U.S. as a result of several issues: physicians or nurses not understanding the emotional needs of victims; victims waiting for hours in emergency waiting rooms; medical personnel not understanding the difficult procedures to collect forensic evidence; reluctance of physicians to collect evidence because they might be called away to spend a day or more in court testifying; and more. **
Because of SANE nurses, victims gain self-respect; medical evidence collection is enhanced; and crime victims and their families can begin to heal.
The Women’s Center salutes SANE nurses in Tarrant County. The community is a better place because of their work and care.
** U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime