Our Role During Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to increase awareness about sexual assault and empower individuals to take steps to prevent it in their communities.
At EvergreenHealth, the Eastside's only 24/7 team of specially trained forensic nurse examiners often play a critical role in supporting sexual assault survivors. These registered nurses undergo extensive training to provide clinical care and support to sexual assault survivors, in addition to collecting important forensic documentation, photography and evidence that's often crucial to prosecuting sexual assault crimes. These nurses volunteer to share an on-call shift 365 days a year and come from a wide range of specialties across the EvergreenHealth system, including maternity care, acute care and emergency care.
Formerly known as the "SANE" team (for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners), the group expanded its expertise in 2013 to provide on-call care for survivors of other abuse and domestic violence as well—and they're frequently asked to respond to elder abuse cases in our area.
The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) provides this important information for victims and for those who support them:
- Evidence can be collected up to five days (120 hours) following an assault. You do not need to report your assault to law enforcement in order to receive a forensic exam.
- You can consent to all or just part of a forensic exam—or choose just to treat your injuries without a forensic exam.
- You can request a forensic exam even if you haven't yet decided whether to report to the police. The hospital must hold onto the evidence gathered from the exam in case you decide later to report your assault.
- Sexual assault exams and related medical care are provided at no cost to the victim of assault. State law requires that the Crime Victims Compensation program cover the cost of the initial medical exam.
Although the forensic nurse examiners help survivors pursue justice, the team is also deeply invested in partnering with experts and resources that will help ensure victims receive comprehensive care and support. Such support includes referrals to social workers, counselors, other medical specialists and supporting agencies like KCSARC.
Important Crisis Support Services
Sexual Assault and Harassment
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: a service of RAINN
- National Helpline for Male Survivors: a service of 1in6
- National Street Harassment Hotline: a service of Stop Street Harassment
- DoD Safe Helpline: a service for members of the U.S. military and their families, operated by RAINN for the Department of Defense
Domestic and Dating Violence
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Love Is Respect: a service of the National Domestic Violence Hotline