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SANEs as Key Responders in a Coordinated Response

Successful SANE programs do not operate in isolation. They work closely with other members of the community sexual assault response system (e.g., advocates from sexual assault crisis centers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, other court personnel, forensic lab staff, victim/witness specialists based in justice system offices, and child protective services workers) to meet the multiple needs of victims and to hold offenders accountable for their crimes.21

Many communities have created multidisciplinary bodies, such as sexual assault response teams (SARTs), to oversee coordination and collaboration related to immediate response to sexual assault cases, ensure a victim-centered approach to service delivery, and explore ways to prevent future victimization. In localities where SANE programs exist, SANEs must be integral in these community coordination efforts to facilitate comprehensive and effective response.

The SANE program in Madison, Wisconsin, is collaborating with law enforcement agencies, the prosecution office, and child protective services to develop a child- protection team to coordinate response in child sexual abuse cases. The goal is to conduct one videotaped interview with each child, involving all relevant case responders.22 SANEs will continue to conduct child medical-forensic exams at the hospital.

The SANE program in Monmouth County, New Jersey, as a SART member, works with the Women's Center of Monmouth County to educate high school-aged youth about the dangers of drugs used to facilitate sexual assault. These drugs are typically available at all-night "rave" parties.23

The SART of Memphis, Tennessee, collaborated with the state department of health to develop voluntary standards for response to victims of sexual violence. The standards were developed for use by all counties in the state. They recommend collaboration among law enforcement officers, sexual assault victim advocates, and health care providers for a more systematic approach that ensures every victim in the state receives appropriate services.24

SARTs and other multidisciplinary coordinating bodies can also play a critical role in developing SANE programs and in ensuring their continuance. For instance, part of the program implementation process should include training for all those involved in the coordinated response to sexual assault cases. In addition to instructing them on revised coordination protocols, training can teach them how SANEs improve emergency victim care and forensic evidence collection and provide credible testimony in court.

The Nurse Examiner Program in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was developed by a multidisciplinary group coordinated through the YWCA sexual assault advocacy program. The group hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study and formed a task force to implement the program. Chris Dunnuck, Coordinator of the Nurse Examiner Program, noted that the 3-year planning process was critical to overcome obstacles and ensure the program's financial security.25

The Texas Attorney General's Office, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, and the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault require communities that apply for state funding for SANE training to demonstrate collaboration among agencies that interact with sexual assault victims. Texas also requests that local multidisciplinary teams form to oversee the implementation of their SANE programs.26

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