Sexual Assault Treatment Center offers healing, hope

| April 3, 2013

By Lori LaBundySexual-Assault-chart
Fund Development & Communications Coordinator
Special to Frost Illustrated

The Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC) provides first-response medical forensic examinations to children, women and men who have been victims of sexual assault. We provide services from birth through death as we are also requested to provide forensic evidence collection during any death investigation with suspected sexual assault. The SATC began providing services to adults and adolescents in January 1996; pediatric patient care was added in June 2000. Since inception of services our youngest patient to date was just 37 days old; our oldest patient 91 years old.

The SATC employs registered nurses who are forensically trained and board certified as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who are the recognized and credentialed providers for patients who have been sexually assaulted in Northeast Indiana. The comprehensive care a SANE provides includes an assessment, performing a detailed physical examination, documentation of injury, evidence collection, and expert testimony when subpoenaed. Through injury identification and evidence collection, every examination opens the door to the possibility of offender conviction or exoneration of the innocent—and most importantly is often the first step in the healing journey for the victim.

Laws regarding sexual assault can be confusing, however a couple things to keep in mind: A child 13 and younger cannot legally consent to have sex with anyone. As such, any sexual activity for a child 13 and younger falls under the mandatory reporting laws—meaning any adult who knows or suspects—must report to the authorities. Under Indiana law any individual who has a reason to believe a child is a victim of abuse or neglect has the duty to make a report; therefore, each citizen of Indiana is considered a “mandated reporter.”

According to State of Indiana.gov, “If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call Indiana’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline today. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You do not have to be afraid anyone will find out who made the report because you can report abuse and neglect anonymously”. (http://www.in.gov/dcs) By contacting the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline if you suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, you can play your part in protecting a child and/or making it possible for a family in crisis to get the help and support they need.

Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-800-5556

Adults, anyone 18 years and older have the option to report anonymously under The Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act 2005 (VAWA 2005), also referred to as Jane Doe Reporting. This law provides that states may not “require a victim of sexual assault to participate in the criminal justice system or cooperate with law enforcement to be provided with a forensic medical exam, reimbursed for charges incurred on account of such an exam, or both” (the “VAWA 2005 forensic examination requirement”). This means that adults have the option to still receive a medical forensic examination that provides an opportunity for injury identification, evidence collection and prophylaxis treatment for sexually transmitted infections without reporting to law enforcement.

Sexual assault knows no boundaries. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, age, socio-economic status or sexual orientation. The victim is NEVER to blame. We encourage all victims of sexual assault to break the silence. Break the silence by calling us at (260) 423-2222, or checking out our website at www.YouSpeakWeListen.org. We are forensic nurses making a difference by listening and offering choices for healthcare needs, reporting options and resources to begin a journey of healing for those women, children and men who have been sexually assaulted.

 

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Category: Local

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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