SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)
At the request of law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services, the Texarkana Children's Advocacy Center SANE Nurse can perform a medical evaluation for a child victim of abuse if necessary. The purpose of the Sexual Assault Examination is to ensure your the child's physical and mental well-being following suspected sexual abuse.
Below is some information about the SANE Program that you may find helpful, such as the purpose of the examination, what the examination entails, and frequently asked questions.
What is the purpose of a SANE exam?
If there is reason to believe that your child has been sexually abused, a SANE Exam is an important step in making sure the child is healthy, both physically and mentally. A nurse with advanced training in sexual assault exams, will examine your child in order to determine whether your child has injuries that need to be cared for, answer any questions you or your child have and assure your child that he/she is healthy and his/her body is normal, screen your child for pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted diseases, and collection of DNA evidence as part of the investigative process.
What happens during a SANE exam?
In most SANE exams, the nurse will usually talk to you and your child in order to make you both feel more comfortable, at this time the nurse will collect your child's medical history and information about the reason for the need of the exam. The nurse will conduct a head to toe physical exam of your child to ensure your child is healthy. The nurse will then conduct a visual exam of the child's genitalia area to determine if your child has any injuries or illness that needs to be cared for. This part of the exam is done with an SDFI (high powered magnification lense) which allows the nurse to see minute details and aids in photo documentation. If needed, evidence will be collected and the nurse will draw blood or take swabs of the child's bodily fluids in order to screen for infections.
Will a SANE exam hurt my child?
No. The child's well being is the first priority in a child sexual assault examination, and in most cases the exam will not hurt.
Is a SANE exam similar to a woman's pelvic exam?
No. In SANE exams, the nurse will only conduct a visual exam of the child's genital area and is non-invasive. In the instance that the exam is acute (occurring less than 72 hours after assault) and the adolescent is sexually active, a speculum exam can be done to test for STI's.
Will the SANE exam be upsetting for my child?
In most cases, no. Nurses who conduct SANE exams receive special training on how to conduct the exam in a child sensitive manner that minimizes discomfort to the child.
Common myths about SANE exams:
Many medical and non-medical personnel believe that children who allege sexual abuse of their anal and genital area will have evidence of abuse during the SANE exam. The truth is, the majority (over 94%) of children who are sexually abused have no evidence of anal or genital injury upon examination. The reasons for this include:
Children often do not tell right away after they have been abused because they usually know their abuser and have been "groomed" to allow the abuse to happen by someone they know/love/trust or have been threatened if they tell, harm will come to them or members of their family. This delay commonly occurs and leads to a time period during which injuries that may have been sustained would heal to the point of not being recognized.
The type of tissue around the anus and in the genital area does not injure easily. Injuries that do occur frequently heal quickly and completely without residual scarring. Rubbing inside the labia can be painful in some instances, but would not have the potential to injure the hymen.
Many cases of child sexual assault involve coercion and intimidation instead of physical force by the alleged perpetrator decreasing the likelihood for a child to sustain a physical injury that is identifiable on examination.