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A SANE is a registered nurse (R.N.) who has advanced education and clinical preparation in forensic examination of sexual assault victims.1 In the 1990s, sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) programs sprang up in hundreds of communities across the country to address the inadequacy of the traditional model for sexual assault medical evidentiary exams. Those who work with sexual assault victims have long recognized that victims are often retraumatized when they come to hospital emergency departments for medical care and forensic evidence collection. Not only have victims had to wait for a long time to be examined, but those who perform the exams often lack training and experience in working with sexual assault victims and in gathering forensic evidence. The SANE program can be tailored to the needs of any locality or region to provide a victim-sensitive solution to systemic gaps in the medical-legal response to these victims.

Where they exist, SANE programs have made a profound difference in the quality of care provided to sexual assault victims. SANEs offer victims prompt, compassionate care and comprehensive forensic evidence collection. In addition to helping preserve the victim's dignity and reduce psychological trauma, SANE programs are enhancing evidence collection for more effective investigations and better prosecutions. Particularly in nonstranger sexual assault cases, thorough documentation of evidence corroborating a victim's account of an assault by establishing lack of consent has led to more successful prosecutions.

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) has provided strong leadership in promoting the development of SANE programs. Through OVC's funding and resources, the SANE Development and Operation Guide was created to assist communities in developing a SANE program, a Web site was established to offer information and technical assistance to SANEs, and regional workshops about how to start a SANE program have been presented. This bulletin provides information, ideas, and resources that will encourage individuals and agencies nationwide to explore the possibility of starting a SANE program in their areas.

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Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Programs: Improving the Community Response to Sexual Assault Victims
April 2001
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