After years of falling homicide rates, Washington, DC has seen a surge in homicides. Police chief Cathy Lanier and anti- domestic violence advocacy organizations are concerned that domestic violence may be part of the reason for the spike. Although 2014 is only halfway over, more women have already been killed this year than in 2013. Our nurses offer free intimate partner violence exams at any time at Washington Hospital Center. Find more information on our website. There are also links to resources provided by other groups in the city and information about what to do if you or a loved one are facing an abusive relationship.
A new survey of campus sexual assault adds to already serious concerns about how our nation’s colleges are responding to sexual assault. The survey, released by Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri), reveals that many colleges are in violation of laws about responding to sexual assault or fail to follow best practices for responding to these crimes. Read more here and read the report here.
Here in DC, we watch the news about sexual assault and SANE programs in Maryland and Virginia closely because so many people cross between the three regions on a regular basis. The state of Maryland just passed a law requiring all hospitals to have a protocol in place for responding to sexual assault victims. Check out this article to learn more about Maryland’s new law as well as a thorough overview of all of the different ways different regions across the country respond to sexual assaults.
The Department of Forensic Sciences in Washington, DC does a phenomenal job at processing our sexual assault evidence kits. Their forensic scientist and team have eliminated the backlog of kits in DC and have a rapid turnaround for test results. Kudos to them, thanks for doing such a great job with our kits!
A Washington Post article about the national kit backlog. http://wapo.st/SOUXTg
Check out these local stories!
Earlier this week an Alexandria, Virginia deputy sheriff was arrested for sexually assaulting a female inmate. The sexual assault charges have now been dropped though he is still charged with carnal knowledge of an inmate and Alexandria’s sheriff says he “betrayed his duty to this Office.” May 15 was the deadline for states and territories to adopt federal standards to reduce sexual assault in prisons under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. It is estimated that 4% of state and federal prisoners and 3.2% of jail inmates experience sexual assault.
Happy National Nurses Week! This year’s theme is Nurses: Leading the Way and we’re proud to be leading the way for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence in the District. Forensic nurses play an important role in the community by providing victim-centered medical care while also collecting evidence and working with the judicial system to bring perpetrators to justice.
This year we joined with other victim services groups in DC to ensure that survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) have access to comprehensive care and services. Our nurses provide exams to survivors of IPV and they are specially trained on the nuances of strangulation and other injuries commonly seen with IPV patients, and they know how to collect evidence and offer testimony in court. Learn more here. We also continued to provide exams and medical care for sexual assault survivors in the city. Check back for more information as our program continues to grow and offer new services!
Read more about forensic nurses and National Nurses Week here.
As Sexual Assault Awareness month came to an end, a flurry of news stories reminded us of just how much work we have to do. Check out the links and articles below!
The White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its first report. Read it here. The report calls on colleges to survey students about the on-campus climate, educate students, especially men, about what they can do as bystanders to prevent assault, provide survivors with confidential counseling, update sexual misconduct policies, and much more.
They also launched a website, NotAlone.gov, which contains resources about sexual assault for students and college administrators.
Reported sexual assaults in the military rose by fifty percent this year, but we can’t tell whether the number of sexual assaults jumped or if this spike can be attributed to service members feeling more comfortable reporting assaults. We do know that of reported military sexual assaults, fewer than 1 in 10 end up going to trial. Learn more from The New York Times here.
We were excited to hear President Barack Obama announce the creation of a special task force addressing sexual assault on college campuses. The interagency task force, led by the White House Council on Women and Girls, will have 90 days to come up with new recommendations to help colleges prevent and respond to sexual assault. Working in DC, with its large student population, we are eager to hear the task force recommendations and play our part in providing survivors with compassionate care, ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice, and educating the community about sexual assault.
The White House report released in conjunction with the announcement about the task force particularly mentions SANEs as a critical component to improving evidence collection in order to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault, stating “In addition to improving victim care, SANE programs…enhance the quality of forensic evidence, improve law enforcement’s ability to collect information and file charges, and increase rates of successful prosecutions.”
Hi! And welcome to the DC Forensic Nurse Examiners (DCFNE) blog.
First you might be wondering what a forensic nurse examiner (FNE) is. We are nurses with special training in treating survivors of trauma. We:
- provide exams that specifically address health concerns of trauma survivors
- can recommend what medications to take and have a doctor prescribe them
- make sure that evidence is collected in a way that is helpful to any future court case
- understand the psychological impact of an assault and how to provide compassionate care to our patients.
We work with patient advocates from the Network for Victim Recovery of DC, the Executive Office of the Mayor’s Office of Victim Services and MedStar Washington Hospital Center as part of Washington DC’s overall efforts to ensure that survivors of sexual assault receive complete and compassionate care.
We have also teamed up with Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (SAFE) to provide comprehensive medical, forensic, and advocacy services to adult and adolescent victims of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Learn more about our IPV Exams here.
Keep your eye on this space for local and national news about sexual assault and IPV and the role FNEs play in treating survivors and ensuring a safer community by helping to bring perpetrators to justice.