Provide emotional support and collect evidence after a sexual assault.
What does a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner do?
Reporting a sexual assault is an emotionally draining, and often scary, experience. But sexual assault nurse examiners provide support and crisis intervention while collecting vital evidence to ensure the attacker is brought to justice. You perform an evidence collection exam to document the patient’s injuries, and then assign the patient to the appropriate staff member for further treatment. Though a sexual assault nurse examiner can be male or female, most patients request a female for comfort reasons.
When a patient is brought to the clinic or hospital, you start by photographing and making notes of obvious physical injuries. This all goes into the patient’s file to serve as evidence in court. Next you make sure the patient understands that this examination is for collecting evidence, not what they would expect during a regular check-up at a doctor’s office. After collecting evidence, often using a rape test kit, you take measures to prevent STDs and pregnancy.
Finally, you introduce the patient to their doctor. Depending on the severity of the injuries, both physical and emotional, you may choose to seek treatment for the patient before collecting evidence. A patient may be in shock or too upset to undergo the evidence exam right away.
The line between evidence collection and patient safety is a thin one. It’s important to preserve evidence for the courts, but timely physical and emotional treatment is critical for a full recovery. Keeping this balance in check is the most crucial aspect of your job.