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First clinic dedicated to sexual assault forensic exams opens in Middle Tennessee

Posted: 5:40 PM, Feb 04, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-26 20:54:16-05
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — When it comes to sexual assault in our country, the statistics are startling. One in four women will be sexually assaulted at least once in her lifetime and for men, it's one in six. But 63 percent of sexual assaults are never reported, according to the Sexual Assault Center.

The SAFE Clinic, part of the Sexual Assault Center , is the first and only dedicated clinic for sexual assault forensic exams in Middle Tennessee. It is open 24/7, meaning there will always be a sexual assault nurse examiner and advocate available. And if you do not speak English, they will connect you with a translator.

Clinic coordinator Rachel Shearin explains one of the biggest misconceptions about coming in to complete a kit is having to get law enforcement involved right away, but that is not the case. Whether you choose to get law enforcement involved, Shearin says it is important to document the assault. There's a five day window of when you were attacked to complete the kit for accuracy.

"Sexual assault is prevalent in our community for sure," said Rachel Shearin, clinic coordinator. "We just want to make sure we are there and readily available for our patients and offer a safe place to go."

The SAFE clinic is relatively new. It opened August 31, 2018. Shearin says they've seen about 80 people so far, both men and women. They hope by spreading the word, they can get even more survivors coming in to get the resources they need.

The SAFE clinic is also the only location in Middle Tennessee that has the Mobile ODT device. It's used to not only zoom clearly on bruising but can be used to annotate notes and record video.

The clinic offers forensic exams, as well as STI and pregnancy prevention medications all free of cost. You must be 16 years old or older to be seen at this clinic.

Sexual assault forensics exams can only be administered at three places in the mid-state. They include the SAFE clinic, Vanderbilt and Nashville General Hospital.

You can call the crisis and support line at 1-800-879-1999 or contact the SAFE clinic at 615-258-5899.