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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Carol Gaunitz, RN, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Every 68 seconds an American is sexually assaulted.

At Veterans Memorial Hospital, we have specially trained nurses who can provide confidential, compassionate, holistic care and support after a sexual assault.  Exams are free of charge and can include a head-to-toe exam to look for injuries, medication to treat and prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), HIV, emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy and forensic evidence collection.  Patients can participate in as much or as little of the exam as they choose.

A team of support called a SART Team (Sexual Assault Response Team) is formed which consists of a SANE Nurse (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) who is the first person to work with anyone who has been sexually assaulted.  Advocates are trained people who are available to provide support, answer questions, and to connect with resources, helping patients through the entire process, even down the road, long after the assault.  Local Law Enforcement is also trained to help with the investigation and if patients choose, will begin an investigation.   If a child under the age of 14 has been sexually assaulted, we will evaluate and then facilitate care to an appropriate facility.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please let us help you.  You can start your journey to healing at Veterans Memorial Hospital, by coming to the Emergency Room.  We are there for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

At all times it is important to remember:  YOU guide the process.  It is YOUR choice of how much or how little you utilize.  There is NO cost to you.  And remember, NO MEANS NO.  Help is out there – don’t be afraid.

For more information, call the hospital to speak with an ER nurse 563-568-3411.