Forensic nurses: helping victims of sexual assault

Sexual assault is splashed across headlines everywhere you look. Women are coming forward to share their stories. A group of forensic nurses has a unique role in helping these victims.

Posted: Dec. 13, 2017 8:00 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Sexual assault is splashed across headlines everywhere you look. Women are coming forward to share their stories.

It's become such a trend people are now calling it a movement. A group of 10 forensic nurses has a unique role in helping these victims.

They can be found at Union Hospital in Terre Haute.

They are trained to help victims of sexual assault, rape or domestic abuse. These nurses are often the first person to hear about a victim's experience. A responsibility they say, they do not take lightly.

The nurses use UV lighting and special glasses that allow them to see evidence others cannot. This includes bruises, scratches and bodily fluids that can’t be seen to the naked eye.

This training allows them to collect evidence that otherwise could be lost.

“This is an evidence-based practice,” said Jaqueline Becker, a forensic nurse in Terre Haute. “This will show the victim's story. This will help the victim say this is what was done to me, I know it was done to me and I did not consent to this.”

The sexual assault assessment is for women and men who are 14-years- and older. It is often free thanks to a fund through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

“They take care of the bill, the emergency room bill,” said Tara Byrd, a forensic nurse in Terre Haute. They take care of lab work, testing through the ER. They also cover follow up treatment.”

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