April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

Written by Angie Laing, RN, CEN, SANE-A, Program Coordinator of the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Forensic Nurse Examiner Program, Charge Nurse in the Emergency Department, and Magnet Co-Chair.   Angie has worked at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for 8 years.

Angie Laing2013

Angie Laing

In recognition of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Forensic Nurses, advocacy groups, agencies and organizations are raising awareness and educating communities and individuals in identifying and preventing sexual violence.

So, join the conversation, and start talking about identification and prevention of adult and child sexual abuse.

Here’s how you can help. Be informed.

Sexual and domestic/intimate partner violence poses a significant public health problem linked to increased mortality and morbidity.

  • These crimes can result in severe physical and psychological problems, both immediate and long-term and create a considerable health burden for survivors.
  • Access to care and available resources creates an additional community burden for this population.
  • Forensic nurses, law enforcement officers and victim advocates are often the first to come in contact with survivors of sexual violence.

Understand what a forensic nurse examiner does?

Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) are registered nurses who specialize in the care and management of survivors of sexual and domestic/intimate partner violence.  Their specialized knowledge goes beyond the medical field and extends into the legal arena of identification and collection of evidence and familiarity of the judicial system.

FNEs provide survivors of sexual assault a comprehensive medical-forensic examination, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraception, evidence collection and chain of custody procedures, give testimony in a court of law, and promote a continuum of care by managing follow-up services and referrals to valuable community resources.

Find out how forensic nurses respond to survivors. 

We also work in conjunction with a multidisciplinary team of professionals from law enforcement agencies, victim advocates, victim services, and the legal system that make up the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).

This specialized team provides a coordinated community response to survivors of sexual violence by offering immediate access and improvement of victim services, outreach, follow-up, primary prevention education, and identifying and bringing the responsible person(s) to justice.

Learn more about Sentara Healthcare’s Forensic Programs

 Sentara Healthcare has a Forensic Nurse Examiners Program at the following hospitals including: Sentara CarePlex Hospital, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical CenterSentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center and RMH Healthcare.

The programs provide immediate care and services for survivors of sexual and domestic/intimate partner violence.

Sentara’s first forensic nurse examiner program was established in April 2006 at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. The program, which is staffed with 7 part-time forensic nurses, serves victims of sexual and domestic/intimate partner violence and is an extension of the hospital’s Emergency Department.

The program provides services and referrals to approximately 80-100 forensic patients a year. It is funded by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice (DCJS) bi-annual grant, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund, which is designed to improve services for victims of sexual and domestic/intimate partner violence, an underserved population in the community.

Angie’s dedication to raising awareness and educating communities and individuals in identifying and preventing sexual violence earned her an Inside Business Healthcare Hero award.

Read Forensic Nurse is a champion for prevention