University of Iowa News Release
April 7, 2004
Terrill Named Coordinator For Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program
The University of Iowa College of Nursing and the Johnson County Sexual Assault Response Team (JCSART) Advisory Board have announced the hiring of Pamela Terrill as the coordinator of JCSART. She comes to the SART-SANE Program from the UI College of Public Health.
Terrill, a family nurse practitioner, will be in charge of coordinating the SART-SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) Program, including the recruitment, supervision and evaluation of the SANE. She also will work to increase public awareness about the program.
The SART-SANE Program is a community-based team of professionals who respond to sexual assault cases. JCSART is an advisory board overseeing the SANE Program. JCSART is a partnership of the UI College of Nursing, UI Hospitals and Clinics, the Rape Victim Advocacy Program (RVAP), Iowa City Police Department, UI Department of Public Safety, Coralville Police Department, the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, the Johnson County Attorney's Office, Emma Goldman Clinic and the UI Family Planning Clinic. The SART-SANE Program began in the summer of 2000. The goals of SART-SANE include increasing the reporting of sexual assaults by victims; providing consistent, sensitive treatment of victims and increasing the prosecution and conviction of sex offenders.
SANEs are specially trained registered nurses who conduct physical examinations and collect forensic evidence needed in court to prosecute sexual assault offenders. Currently, there are eight SANEs conducting evidentiary exams at UI Hospitals and Clinics. SANEs also support and educate victims about resources available from local agencies to help them cope with an assault. In addition, these nurses consult with the JCSART to ensure that all possible resources are available to the victims.
According to Iowa City Police Lieutenant Jim Steffen, chair of the JCSART Advisory Board, SANEs help the police collect evidence so there are fewer complications in court.
"There is a chain of custody that goes along with the evidence collected by SANEs," Steffen said. "Once the appropriate evidence is collected, it is brought to the police department and held here until the case goes to court. This way, no one has the chance to tamper with the evidence, and there is no confusion about what methods were used to collect the appropriate evidence and secure it."
Often, women do not report an assault because they fear being charged for alcohol or drug use. Steffen recognizes this concern and stated, "The women are the victims, and the officers are simply trying to make an assessment of the situation for the report. We [the police] aren't going to charge someone with underage drinking if they have just been sexually assaulted."
Karla Miller, executive director of RVAP, encourages victims to report sexual assault crimes.
"SANEs ease the way for victims to report a sexual assault. These nurses are trained to conduct the examinations in a sensitive manner, collect evidence according to protocol and testify in court," Miller said.
Special accommodations have been made in the treatment of sexual assault victims, according to Terrill. "There is a specific exam room at the hospital for sexual assault examinations that ensures privacy for the victims," she said. Funding for the cost of the examination is provided by the Crime Victim Assistance Division in Des Moines.
The program is currently recruiting nurses interested in becoming SANEs, Terrill said. "We'd like more nurses to participate in the program. We're always interested in talking with nurses who want to be a sexual assault nurse examiner," she said. SANEs are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Terrill would like the community to recognize that sexual assault is a traumatic crime. "People need to be more educated about sexual assault. Assault is not a women's issue, it's a public health issue and a societal issue. It's not about sex; it's about power and control," Terrill said.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Nursing, 101 Nursing Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52242 and the Rape Victim Advocacy Program, 320 S. Linn, Iowa City, IA 52240.