Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anytime, anyplace. Survivors of sexual violence often experience fear, shock, numbness, disbelief, shame, anger and feelings of a loss of control over their lives. Sexual assault victims may find it hard to trust people, and going about a normal routine may require tremendous effort. Crises of any kind are easier to cope with when there are supportive people close by, who accept and understand these feelings.
Rape, sexual assault, incest and sexual abuse are not acts of sex. They are violent crimes that use sex as a weapon to overpower, humiliate or hurt another person. Anyone can be victimized regardless of sex, age, race, sexual orientation and social or economic background.
It is the priority of the Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART) at Mayo Clinic Health System in St. James to provide a safe, nonjudgmental setting, 24 hours a day in the Emergency Department. The SART Program works collaboratively with other community responders, including those in advocacy, law enforcement and the legal system. Sexual assault victims are cared for by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) who has completed special education and clinical preparation to provide expert health care services and forensic care.
The SANE nurses provide the following services:
Take patient history.
Assess and treat trauma response and injury.
Collect and manage evidence.
Evaluate risk of pregnancy.
Provide emotional and social support needed during a post-trauma evaluation and examination.
Provide testimony required to move these kinds of cases through the legal system.
Offer medication to reduce risk of sexually transmitted disease.
If sexual assault victims have injuries requiring treatment, the Emergency Department staff will evaluate and treat the injuries. This examination is separate from the one done to collect evidence. The charges associated with injury treatment are not covered by the SART Program and will be billed to medical insurance, or other arrangements can be made.