To Rape Survivors and the Nurses Who Care For Them

As a researcher in domestic violence and health outcomes, I want to echo Vice President Biden’s powerful words to the Stanford rape survivor in his open letter of June 9, 2016.

I especially want to pay tribute to her bravery and make a plea to the criminal justice system to better adjudicate rape for all survivors, college students, those less privileged, and the “forgotten” rape survivors whose cases are never prosecuted because of lack of access to the criminal justice system.

Those 18.3% of all U.S. women who have been raped in this country are disproportionately of American Indian/Native Alaskan heritage, are disproportionately poor, and are most often raped by an intimate partner or ex-partner. They all need justice, our compassion, and excellent medical care and forensic examination.

I would also like to pay tribute to the thousands of sexual assault nurse examiners who are providing compassionate forensic examinations for victims of sexual assault and are often the cornerstone of a successful investigation of rape—the ones who help establish consent even if the identity of the offender offender is not in question. These exams are confidential like any other health care exam and can be obtained even if the survivor has not yet decided about reporting to the police.

Above all, forensic nurses expertly provide needed health care – treatment for injuries, medications to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and links to advocates and follow-up care even if the survivor decides against evidence collection.

The Survivors’ Access to Supportive Care Act (SASCA) was introduced in the Senate in May of this year to expand access to qualified sexual assault care across the country and needs all of our support. It’s these kind of policies that will drive the future support provided for sexual assault victims.

Thank you to all who have worked to improve and provide compassionate care for the many victims.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacquelyn Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN;

Jackie Campbell is a national leader in research and advocacy in the field of domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV). She has authored or co-authored more than 230 publications and seven books on violence and health outcomes. Her studies paved the way for a growing body of interdisciplinary investigations by researchers in the disciplines of nursing, medicine, and public health.

Blog contribution from Kathryn Laughon, PhD, RN, SANE & AAN Expert Panel on Violence Co-Chair, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing PhD Alumna

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