FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEOVC
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14, 1999202/307-0703

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT RELEASES GUIDE TO HELP COMMUNITIES REPLICATE SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM TO ASSIST SEXUAL ASSAULT VICTIMS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new guide will help communities interested in developing a multi-disciplinary, victim-centered response to victims of sexual assault, the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) announced today. The guide serves as a blueprint for nurses and other community leaders who want to establish or enhance a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program.

"An effective response to violence, and a key part of the Administration's violence against women initiative, transcends the criminal justice system and builds on many disciplines, including the health care sector," said Bonnie Campbell, Director of the Violence Against Women Office. "Law enforcement, prosecutors and victim advocates are working collaboratively with SANEs to respond more sensitively to victims of sexual assault and improve prosecution of these crimes."

"Because sexual assault victims frequently suffer psychological trauma and long-term health problems from their victimization, providing sensitive health care to victims in the aftermath of an assault is critical," added Kathryn Turman, Acting OVC Director. "SANE practitioners help preserve victims' dignity, improve evidence collection for better prosecution and promote community involvement and concern for victims and their families."

Victims of sexual assault often find that the traditional way of handling evidentiary exams compounds their trauma. Victims may endure long waiting periods in busy, public emergency rooms where they are not allowed to eat, drink or urinate while waiting for their exam, while other patients' needs are attended to.

Also, many doctors and nurses performing the exams have not been trained in medical evidence collection procedures or do not perform them frequently enough to stay proficient. Some doctors are reluctant to perform the exams for fear of being called in to testify in court.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Development and Operation Guide addresses these issues by providing information on how to operate model hospital and community-based SANE programs, including assessing community needs, developing community support and staff selection and training. Standards on forensic evidence collection and maintaining evidence integrity, conducting pediatric exams and interviews, testifying in court and attending to the needs of special populations, such as the elderly and individuals with disabilities, are also included.

The guide was developed by the Sexual Assault Resource Service (SARS) in Minneapolis with funding from OVC. In 1996, SARS conducted a survey of 86 SANE programs to obtain information about program structure and practice, which is reflected in the new guide.

SANE programs are developing rapidly with more than 100 programs now in existence. SARS has set up a SANE Web site www.sane-sart.com to provide current information on these programs.

For a copy of the guide, or for more information about OVC and its programs, contact the OVC Resource Center at 1-800/627-6872, or visit OVC's Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc. Information about other Office of Justice Programs bureaus and program offices is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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After hours contact: Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534 or page on 202/516-6843