S.A.N.E Training Helping Victims of Sexual Assault

"As a woman, a mother, a daughter, this is something that affects everybody in our community," says Tanysha Montana, a nurse manager at SwedishAmerican Hospital.

Montana has one day left before she completes her 40 hours of classroom training. That's just one of the requirements to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, also called S.A.N.E, through the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

Right now 28 nurses are training at Rockford College, but classroom work is just the start.

Certified S.A.N.E Christine Carter explains, "Training with forensic lab, training with photography, spending time in a court room because we also become more expert at the testimony for our victims."

Once nurses are S.A.N.E trained, they can then start gathering that evidence using a sexual assault collection kit. State prosecutors say that's a crucial part in bringing a victim's offender to justice.

"We know from a lot of the TV shows, evidence and DNA is really important in terms of bringing a case to trial and prosecution," says Cindy Hora, Chief of Crime Victim Services with the Illinois Attorney General's Office.

While S.A.N.E nurses mainly focus on collecting evidence, they're also there for emotional support.

"A victim a lot of times will feel like they're re-victimized again by prejudices that can happen inadvertently, even from police, maybe they've had some bad cases where it wasn't believable. A S.A.N.E trained nurse is going to listen more intently," says Carter.

Nurses say establishing that trust is going to help them and the victim get through a painful process together.

Montana says, "We need to make sure that the patient knows that it's not their fault."

Right now Rockford does not have a specific center designated to S.A.N.E practices. Nurses say they hope this training will open a door to creating a local establishment.

After this week's training, local hospitals will go from having one or two S.A.N.E-trained nurses, to as many as eight, possibly more.

Nurses say if we become a victim of sexual assault, it's important we don't shower, brush our teeth or eat or drink because doing those things can destroy evidence. They say we should immediately head to the emergency room.

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