Four SANE Nurse

SANE Services for Sexual Assault Survivors

May 2, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SANE Services for Sexual Assault Survivors

Even though Sexual Assault Awareness month has come to an end, the resources for survivors of sexual assault are always available at Cass County Health System.

“Sexual assault is a crime, and in addition to the physical harm inflicted, it’s also emotionally and mentally overwhelming,” said Sara Beth Jones, RN, Lead House Supervisor and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). “When a sexual assault occurs, we advise that the survivor should go to the nearest Emergency Department as soon as possible.”

At the Emergency Department, the patient will be cared for by a SANE. A SANE is a registered nurse who has completed specialized training and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of a patient who has experienced sexual assault or abuse. “We always have someone on-call to respond when a survivor comes into our emergency department,” said Sara Beth.

The sexual assault forensic exam is free for survivors. “Worrying about money should be the last thing on their mind,” said Sara Beth. The State of Iowa pays for expenses related to the forensic exam, including immediate preventive treatment of sexual transmitted diseases.

Survivors also dictate the entire process of the forensic exam. “Anytime they want to take a break or end the exam, we stop — no questions asked.  The survivor’s wishes are honored all the way through the process.” Once the exam is complete, all evidence from the exam will be packaged and sealed appropriately.

“We’re also here to help connect survivors to resources such as a trained sexual assault advocate,” said Sara Beth. Sexual assault advocates are available 24/7 from the Catholic Charities Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program (they also offer a 24/7 crisis line at 1-888-612-0266).  These advocates provide information about community services, crisis counseling, legal rights and options, assist with transportation needs, as well as any other needs the survivor might have.

Advocates and SANE nurses work closely with local law enforcement, too, if the survivor wishes to have them involved.

“Whenever we can use local resources to assist victims it is a win for us,” said Darby McLaren, Cass County Sheriff.  “I think the victim is more comfortable, and we know who we are working with at CCHS which always helps.” Having the SANE nurses available at CCHS also eliminates the need for a deputy to transport a survivor to a larger hospital, which can take several hours.

“We currently have five SANE nurses, and our plan is to add three additional SANE nurses, because we are very committed to supporting survivors the best we can,” said Sara Beth.

Recent Statistics on Sexual Assault Survivors from Cass County

Survivors by Gender                                              Survivors by Age

Data provided by Catholic Charities Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program, a not for profit agency that provides services to anyone who has been victimized in any way through forced or unwanted sexual activity. In the past 18 months, the agency has served 24 sexual assault survivors from Cass County. Of these 24, 16% were male and 84% female, 82% were under the age of 18, 9% were 18-29, and 9% were 30-44.