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Contact: Angie Boyd-Chambers, (615) 284-7462,

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Sexual assault shouldn’t happen, but if it does, the Saint Thomas Rutherford Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program offers a safe place to begin recovery.   

There is nothing easy about what sexual assault victims face when they decide to come to the emergency department. The SANE program provides confidential services including medical exams and treatment, options for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, assistance in working with law enforcement, collection of forensic evidence and referrals for counseling and follow-up care. 

 “Sexual assault is a healthcare issue,” said Debbie Curtis, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner with Saint Thomas Rutherford. “Raising awareness on this very important issue will decrease violence in our community. Encouraging victims to seek medical care and emotional care is important.”

SANEs are registered nurses who have advanced education in medical care and forensic examination of sexual assault victims. SANEs provide prompt, compassionate and comprehensive care in a safe environment. Services are provided 24-hours-a-day through the Saint Thomas Rutherford emergency department. 

Someone who has suffered a sexual assault may experience some common responses that include emotional, physical, cognitive and social changes. 

If you are a victim of sexual assault, Curtis recommends remembering to do the following: 

  • Don’t eat or drink anything
  • Don’t shower, bathe, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth
  • Don’t urinate or have a bowel movement
  • Don’t comb your hair or change your clothes
  • Don’t smoke 

It is important to have a sexual assault exam performed even if you have done one or more of the activities on this list. Saint Thomas Rutherford provides exams up to 120 hours (5 days) after the assault for victims ages 13 or older. 

For more information on male and female sexual violence, please visit If you need immediate assistance, please contact Saint Thomas Rutherford's SANE program at 615-396-5512.

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