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According to RAINN, every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted. What some may not know is that SANE nurses play a vital role after a sexual assault.

The term “SANE” stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. These nurses are trained to be equipped to handle these specific situations when they come in. They go through an intensive, long, and required training that is specifically targeted towards treating those who go through an assault. However, the number of SANE nurses in hospitals is lacking among the U.S compared to the number of people that are being assaulted each day. Many hospitals do not have the nurses that are trained to do the kits, which means those that have been hurt have to be sent elsewhere. This only adds to the stress of what they have endured.

Making them feel safe is one of the most important things that a SANE nurse can do. This is why it is so important for hospitals to have the proper resources like SANE nurses, who are trained to handle those who have experienced trauma-because we don’t know what happened. All we know is that this person needs help, and we need to be as patient and gentle with them as possible.

When a traumatic event happens, each individual has a different reaction. Each person handles the way they cope differently. Whether this means being in a state of shock and being unable to comprehend what is happening around them, or this means having the capabilities of making rational decisions during the several steps that need to be taken; what you’re feeling and the way you are reacting is valid, no matter what.

I look at it this way. If someone comes into the Emergency Room with a broken leg, the first person to triage that patient is a nurse. Take vitals. Stabilize them. Do whatever is needed to make them feel comfortable and safe. Their first instinct is to make the patient comfortable despite how scary or painful the situation is.

It should be the same treatment for someone who has been assaulted. They should be made to feel comfortable as well. Regardless of how the survivor/victim is reacting, the ultimate goal of a SANE nurse should be to make them feel more comfortable. One thing that needs to be kept in mind when treating someone who has gone through trauma is that they are also most likely struggling with some tough thoughts. Their brain is trying to process what is going on in the moment while also trying to cope with what happened. Please be patient with them. They are trying their best.

SANE nurses are the heart of treating survivors/victims after an assault. These nurses try their best to provide as much support and safety as possible. Whether that is through listening, being patient, answering a concern or question, or more. Remember, that no matter what you feel at that moment, what you’re feeling is valid– There are people to help and care for you.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. For related resources, please visit RAINN.org and if you or someone you know is struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Background Image Credit: The National Sexual Violence Resource Center


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