Helping sexual assault victims take a first step toward healing and justice

 

Too often stigmatized and seldom talked about, sexual assault is a serious, community health issue. Someone becomes a sexual assault victim every two minutes.*

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is an opportunity to lift stigma’s cloud, recognize the needs of sexual assault victims and acknowledge our community’s responsibility to provide care and support.

For victims, this is the first step toward healing and justice,” said Stephanie Green, RN, MSN, who oversees the Southern Arizona Center against Sexual Assault (SACASA) forensic exam program. “There is a relief for victims knowing the exam will support prosecution. Victims want as much evidence as possible to show this was wrong and not invited.”

For more than 10 years, Tucson Medical Center has partnered with (SACASA) to complete a comprehensive forensic exam for victims of sexual assault and provide immediate care and resources – the only program of its kind in Southern Arizona.

At the TMC Emergency Department, there is a dedicated private space for sexual assault evaluation and treatment. SACASA provides certified sexual assault nurse examiners who work with physicians to treat, document and provide additional support and resources.

The quiet room is a dedicated private space, with soft lighting, and a calming space in our emergency department

“A victim’s needs are far more than physical,” Green said. “From necessities like food, clothing and safe shelter to complex needs like behavioral health-care, prescription fills and transportation to medical appointments – we can make immediate referrals to help victims at every level.”

For the care providers, it is more than a program. “It is our priority to provide the most advanced and compassionate care for sexual assault victims during the worst time in their lives,” said Cynthia Carsten, RN, MSN, the director of patient care services at the TMC Emergency Department.

A separate, dedicated quiet room

Green noted that sexual assault is a community health matter that affects us all – men and women, adults and children. “Stigma and avoidance will perpetuate the problem, hindering every victim’s recovery with unjust shame and fear.”

As a community member, we encourage you to learn more about sexual assault, have more open discussions about your knowledge and build empathy and understanding.

Green further explained that collective education and action are the answers. “It will take a community effort to prevent, and hopefully end, this community health problem.”

If you have been the immediate victim of sexual assault call 911. If you are a victim and seeking resources, contact SACASA at (520) 327-7273. Learn more about sexual assault at www.sacasa.org or call (520) 327-1171. SACASA is a division of CODAC.

Dine Out For Safety – support survivors of sexual violence by dining out on April 18 – participating restaurants will donate up to 20 percent of proceeds to support SACASA programs.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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