LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - After three years, a program supporting victims of sexual assault has re-launched at CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.
With Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) now on site, the program’s director says their mission is to “serve the under-served and make the community safer.”
“These survivors are often overlooked because of fear of seeking treatment, the humiliation, embarrassment and self-blame,” said Jennifer Wood, the administrative director for the SANE program. “We want them to know it’s okay to speak up, and we want to advocate for them.”
Only 16 percent of counties in the state of Texas offer SANE programs. If a victim reported an assault, they would have to find the nearest hospital in the area that offers the examination.
“Before, their options were to go either by police vehicle or by private vehicle to one of the facilities in Tyler,” Wood said. “So that would take a 45-minutes, and no one wants to take drive once you’ve been victimized.”
Leaders want the community to know that they are here to serve victims during their darkest hours, and they know that quick access to care is critical.
“Evidence is good for 96 hours. Having this program in the area is key for quick examination, quick turn around, and getting the authorities involved,” Wood said.
The program works in close partnership with law enforcement, the Women’s Advocacy Center and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
“It’s very key and very important that we have someone there as a support system, so we have someone there to walk them through the trying time,” Wood said.
Program leaders want adult victims of sexual assault to know that even if you don’t want to press charges, a SANE examination can still be performed. DNA submitted into the national database could help future victims of assault.