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Supporting Survivors: The Role of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)


Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

The Importance of Sexual Violence First Responders

What is a SANE?

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a Registered Nurse who has received special training so that they can provide survivors and child victims with holistic, trauma informed, and culturally sensitive care after abuse and assault. In addition, they are able to conduct a forensic exam and may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.

They support safety, healing, and justice for survivors, children, and families by offering options in care, which may include:

  • Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFEs)
  • Testing and treatment or prevention of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy prevention
  • Immediate follow up services with advocacy, medical, and law enforcement partners

SANEs Impact Healing and Justice

Amberly Haverstock, Director of Specialized Services at Lotus

SANEs are often the first people to interact with survivors after abuse or assault. Amberly Haverstock, director of specialized services at Lotus, explains how SANEs support survivors from the first moment of immediate need.

We know that first responders have a profound impact on the way a person will heal from sexual violence. The specialized training and experience of our SANEs offer victims compassionate care and comprehensive forensic evidence collection. The holistic approach of SANEs helps protect a victim’s dignity, reduce further psychological trauma, and embodies Lotus’s values of empowerment and resilience.”

Haverstock explains that SANEs ensure that victims are not re-traumatized by the evidentiary exam/collection process.

They do this by by creating opportunities for victims to be empowered to make decisions about their bodies, ensuring consent at each step of the forensic exam, and giving victims the information they need by connecting them to resources that help them make informed decisions about their medical treatment and options after the exam.

A Community Response

As Kentucky’s regional children’s advocacy and sexual assault center, Lotus facilitates a community response to sexual violence. SANEs play a critical role in this community response.

“We work to support our SANEs in the important work they do through training and technical assistance, information/resource sharing, and ensuring they have the forensic supplies and resources needed to provide the best care to victims,” Haverstock says.

Local SANEs attend a training at Lotus during Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

Lotus also works with nurses who have completed their initial SANE training and are working to seek certification by helping them meet certification requirements.

SANEs throughout the region are able to connect with each other regularly to discuss successes and hurdles, with the goal of enhancing the patient/victim experience.

At Lotus, we know that together we create a world where every person is safe and respected and can reach their full potential.

Thank you to our Purchase Area SANEs for playing an important role in hope and healing for victims after sexual abuse or assault. We celebrate SANEs for their hard work and dedication to supporting survivors to truly heal and reclaim their lives.

Sarah is a community impact intern at Lotus. She is a senior at Murray State studying organizational communication and nonprofit leadership and is passionate about working in the nonprofit sector one day.

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