Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program (SANE)
A sexual assault is a devastating trauma to victims both physically and emotionally. Victims of sexual assault deserve prompt comprehensive care in all medical facilities. Victims should receive medical care for the evaluation and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy concerns. Victims should be offered options of care and reporting options when requesting care from medical facilities.
What is a SANE?
The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program provides direct patient care to victims of sexual violence who present to emergency departments and urgent care centers. The SANEs deliver coordinated, expert forensic and medical care necessary to increase successful prosecution of sex offenders and to assure essential medical intervention to victims of violence.
What do SANEs do?
- Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are specially trained and certified professionals skilled in performing quality forensic medical-legal exams. Should a case go to trial, the SANEs are then available to testify
- SANEs are available by beeper and respond to the site ready to care for the victim of sexual assault
- SANEs will document the account of the assault, perform necessary medical exams, testing and treatment, then collect crucial, time sensitive evidence
- A forensic exam performed by a SANE can take around to 4 hours
- SANEs provide medical care to survivors without interruption, therefore maintaining the chain of evidence from the exam
- SANEs provide preventative treatment for HIV, STDs, and pregnancy
What does a SANE training program involve?
The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training is divided into a didactic portion consisting of approximately 42 hours in the classroom, followed by 45 hours of clinical activities which includes:
- Medical exams/SBI Rape Kit
- Law Enforcement
- Pediatricians/Child Medical Exams
- Criminal Justice Procedures
- Victim Advocacy
- Department of Social Services
What are the benefits for the victim?
- Emergency department staff frequently regard the needs of sexual assault victims as less urgent than other patients because the majority of these victims do not sustain severe physical injuries
- Sexual assault victims often endure long waits in busy public areas (4- to 10-hour waits are not uncommon)
- Sexual assault victims often are not allowed to eat, drink, or urinate while they wait for a physician or nurse to conduct the evidentiary exam, to avoid destroying evidence
- Physicians or nurses who perform evidentiary exams often have not been trained in forensic evidence collection procedures or do not perform these procedures frequently enough to maintain proficiency
- Some physicians are reluctant to perform evidentiary exams because they know that they might be called from the hospital to testify in court and that their qualifications to conduct the exam might be questioned due to a lack of training and experience
- Emergency department staff may not understand sexual assault victimization (e.g., they may blame victims for their assaults or may not believe a "real rape" occurred) and overlook the need to treat victims with sensitivity and respect
- Emergency department staff may fail to gather and/or document all available forensic evidence, particularly in non-stranger cases
What are the benefits for the community?
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 insure a higher conviction rate of sex offenders.
SANE in Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Department of Justice has a listing of programs in Wisconsin.
Interested in SANE training? For more information on the SANE Program and registration for training, see the Wisconsin Department of Justice SANE Program page.
Eliminating the Rape Kit Backlog – Provides information to help victim service professional engage in a multi-disciplinary dialogue about the issues and challenges involved with addressing the backlog of untested rape kits. It also includes information basic information for victims of sexual assault about the forensic examination process: Understanding DNA Evidence | Defining the DNA Backlog | Response Guidelines, Protocols and Tools
Survive Rape – A resource that provides accurate and easy-to-understand information about sexual assault forensics for survivors and the advocates who support them. The goal of the site is to help survivors make informed decisions and find their own path to healing and justice. The information is focused on Massachusetts but may be useful to those in other states as well. The site is in English and Spanish.
Forensic Compliance FAQ page – a project of End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI)