Victim Services seeks to bring Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner to Cullman

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(Cullman Tribune file photo)

 CULLMAN, Ala. – For victims of sexual violence in Cullman County, access to rapid response by forensic personnel trained to deal with the particular issues of those crimes is limited. Children and teens can turn to Brooks’ Place Child Advocacy Center and its Forensic Nurse, but adult victims often have to travel to Birmingham or Huntsville for treatment and care. 

According to Carol Horstman, director of Victim Services of Cullman, Inc., “Many choose not to seek medical care due to lack of transportation or the possibility of having to wait hours for an exam.” 

Horstman shared, “Victim Services is working to change that by creating a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) room and hiring a SANE nurse to come on board as well. SANE nurses undergo specialized training to perform sexual assault forensic exams, while also providing survivors with the gentleness, compassion and warmth they need as they seek to move forward from a traumatic situation. Forensic exams for victims of strangulation will also be performed at the facility.” 

VSC hopes to open its SANE Room in the fall of 2021.  

“We want local victims of sexual assault to have a safe place where they can receive the most up-to-date, confidential and trauma-informed medical care,” said Horstman. “Not only will they have that once we get our SANE room up and running, but they will also have access to Victim Services’ trained advocates and counseling services. If the victim chooses to report the crime, a private room will be available for law enforcement interviews. An advocate will be with the victim throughout the entire process and will be available to provide support and information as they continue the healing journey. 

“Prioritizing the needs of survivors by creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ where they can receive immediate medical care along with all the other available resources will be a huge benefit to the entire community.”  

Get involved 

Horstman suggested ways the community can help with the SANE project:  

  • Make a tax-deductible monetary contribution. The names of businesses, civic clubs, churches, individuals and others who contribute to the SANE Program will be memorialized on a plaque that will permanently hang in the SANE facility. In addition, special recognition will be given during the SANE Room’s grand opening this fall.   
  • Become a SANE volunteer. VSC offers training to volunteers to provide support to survivors. 
  • Join the team of on-call SANE nurses. Current SANEs or RNs interested in SANE training are encouraged to apply. 
  • Donate! Monetary contributions can be mailed to Victim Services, P.O. Box 416, Cullman AL, 35056 or dropped off at the Victim Services offices – 310 3rd Ave. NE Cullman, AL 35055.  

For information about volunteering or becoming a SANE nurse, call 256-775-2600. 

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