Don’t you just love it when acronyms fit just perfectly? There are some that just don’t make sense, are hard to say or impossible to remember.
SANE & SAFE just work. Not in an obvious way, but close enough. All of this is good because I am spending most of this week and part of next traveling around with a great Navy nurse to provide education to providers.
SANE = Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner
SAFE = Sexual Assault Forensic Exams
Perhaps you have seen that the US government (i.e. Department of Defense) has once again come under fire and is defending in a class action suit which is alleging that DoD is not taking appropriate action or responsibility in either prevention or providing proper care, support and action for those who are assault victims.
There is not one branch of the service that is completely free of problems. Because of Tailhook, the Navy started working on the issues a number of years ago. The Army started taking things more seriously starting in 2003 after the mess at Camp Udari along with problems at the Air Force Academy set off a series of complaints, reports in the open press (see Denver Post article of 16 Nov 2003 . Not seeing that they were getting any support from the military, service women (including those deployed) started calling stateside Rape Hot Lines.
I would like to think that over seven years later, everything had improved. That would be a false hood. There is still not consistent training and procedures across services. The Military Justice system has not changed. There are problems, but I don’t think the civilian side is any better. Many factors play into charges, trials and sentencing in both systems; there are individuals who seem to skate by in both systems. In the military it might be because of command deciding not to charge or offer an out in lieu of charges. In the civilian sector, it may well be that money protects or low status of victim means that charges are not brought. In neither case is justice always done. Standard delays in prosecution in both systems means that trials are not all that prompt (getting evidence processed and the discovery process takes time). Unfortunately in the military, it means that a change of venue may well happen with trial in Afghanistan for a crime committed in the States or vice versa. Obviously, that alone will affect the ability to conduct a trial.
So I am not claiming that the military is perfect. What I can say is that there are commands which take sexual harassment and assault seriously. They are willing to bring in an expert TDY to train examiners so that victims can be examined and treated rapidly, compassionately and professionally without being subject to unnecessary delays, exposure or relocation. The system of advocates here in theater is running smoothly. We have cooperation between medical/legal/investigative services.
I can only wish I could believe that the providers we trained today and those attending the next couple of course will never need to put their new knowledge and skills to use.