Grant provides training to better identify sexual assaults in rural areas

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 21:47:17-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One in four women and one in six men will experience sexual assault sometime in their life. But what's more frightening, is many sexual assaults go unreported, especially in rural communities. There is a new grant that aims to decrease the number of unreported sexual assaults in the Appalachian highlands and increase prosecution.

Right now there aren't sexual assault nurse examiners, otherwise known as SANE nurses, at every hospital or clinic.

"There's a lack of knowledge and education on where clinics are located and where to go," said Rachel Shearin, SAFE-SANE clinic coordinator.

In Nashville sexual assault victims can go to metro Nashville general hospital, Vanderbilt or the sexual assault center for an examination by a SANE nurse. The sexual assault center is 24/7. In rural communities, sometimes you have to drive more than an hour to find a trained specialist.

SANE nurses are registered nurses who have completed specialized education and clinical preparation in the medical forensic care of patients experiencing sexual assault or abuse.

East Tennessee state university is using a $1.4 million federal grant to train sexual assault nurse examiners in rural areas.

"What we know to be true about rural communities, is service providers cover a large geographic location so there are individuals covering multiple counties," said
Cameron Clark, Sexual Assault Center, "By increasing the number of SANE nurses in the community, more survivors will be able to show up to hospitals seeking nurses and they will be trained to provide best care they need."

This money will be used to train nurses at East Tennessee State University nurse-managed clinics in Johnson, Hancock and Washington counties and at Ballad Health Hospitals in rural areas.

If you want to go to the SAFE Clinic for an exam, you can go to 101 French Landing Drive, Nashville, TN or call 615-258-5888.

The 24/7 Crisis and Support Line can be reached at 1-800-879-1999.