Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is ‘committed to giving power and control back’ to those who access the SANE program

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Samantha King
Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Samantha King

It is common for people who have been sexually assaulted to experience a feeling of powerlessness. 

Many don’t know where to turn to or what to expect when they reach out for help. 

“It is very important to us that people feel heard, supported and that they are in control,” said Samantha King, Registered Nurse at Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) through the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.
 
“We are committed to giving power and control back to the individual from the very first point of contact, to the end of the exam when the person is walking out the door.”  

King is one of more than 75 SANEs in the province. 

SANEs receive specialized training within forensic nursing. They provide care to patients with specialized medical, psychological and legal systems knowledge.
 
For example, along with providing medical attention, they are also trained to look for injuries and at the emotional well-being specific to patients that have experienced a sexual assault.
 
SANEs are trained to collect and store any evidence collected, if the patient chooses. They can also provide expert testimony in a court of law if needed.

What King believes is important for anyone who may access the SANE program to know is that the patient is in control of their care.
 
“We do this by giving the person choices when it comes to their care,” she said. “Their care is individualized for them, and we take the time to go over each and every intervention with them so their consent is informed.” 

“We also do not put any pressure on the person to decide on any particular aspect. We ensure that people understand that they can change their minds or revoke consent any time during the process by simply saying any form of ‘stop.’ ”

The SANE program provides care to people of all ages and gender identities who have been sexually assaulted within the last five days.
 
People can currently access the program at 14 different emergency departments or health centres throughout Nova Scotia.

In addition to these sites, the SANE program can be accessed by contacting local police or RCMP, through your health care provider or other health centre, through the SANE service provider organizations, or via a 24 hours response line.
 
The Department of Health and Wellness and NSHA also recently announced further expansion of SANE to the northern region of the province, providing response to the Cumberland, Colchester and Eastern Shore areas in the coming months. 

This expansion will make the SANE program available across the province.

King has been working with the SANE program since February 2018. 

She has seen first-hand the struggles that people may face when reaching out for help.
 
“If people are ever unsure about coming in to be seen by SANE, they are welcome to call our 24 hour-line to speak with a SANE and have a conversation about how we could assist them, without strings attached.”

For more information about SANE, please visit our website at www.nshealth.ca/sane