Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program (SANE)
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 nonstranger cases
What are the benefits for the community?
With accurate evidence collections and more prosecutions, more perpetrators of sexual violence will be incarcerated rather than offending more victims, thus making for a healthier community. The message that a survivor receives when a SANE program is developed is: Sexual assault is a problem for the entire community, not just victims and local sexual assault programs.
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.