New Brunswick Tribune

Concerned about limited access to NB’s SANE programme, a national advocacy organisation has formed.

National advocacy organisation worried about restricted access to NB's SANE programme

Key Takeaways:

  • In New Brunswick, just 12 of the province’s 23 hospitals provide the SANE programme, forcing survivors to travel up to an hour to acquire one.
  • Despite Villeneuve-group Ahmed’s desire for more widespread access to sexual assault evidence kits, she feels that not every victim will take use of them.

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program in New Brunswick is only available in 12 of the province’s 23 hospitals, forcing survivors to drive up to an hour to get one.

“When you do have the courage to present yourself, which is a daunting task in and of itself,” Jacqueline Villeneuve-Ahmed, founding member of She Matters, a national sexual assault survivor advocacy group, said during an interview on Wednesday: “To be informed that there are no (sexual assault evidence) kits available to you can be very deterring for survivors to continue and try to access justice.”

Last year, her group looked at the availability of sexual assault evidence kits.

“Certain of the findings were rather shocking,” she added, “in that kits weren’t available at every health facility and hospital in some areas that appeared to be smaller.”

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Roxanne Paquette, the provincial coordinator for the SANE program in New Brunswick, noted that the program could only be offered in the 12 New Brunswick hospitals that provide 24-hour care.

“We need a facility that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week because we all know that intimate partner abuse or sexual assault doesn’t happen Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Paquette said in an interview on Wednesday.

The sexual assault evidence kit cannot currently be administered remotely.

“You have to realize that it’s an expertise,” Paquette noted, “and whoever is performing the assessment will have an impact on the patient’s healing process as well as the quality of evidence collecting.”

When asked how soon an attack survivor should obtain a kit, Paquette said there was no one-size-fits-all response. Part of a sexual assault nurse examiner’s responsibility was to treat the patient emotionally.

“The window of evidence collecting will not be the same,” she added, noting that criteria such as gender and what was done influence the amount of time usable evidence may be gathered.

Although Villeneuve-group Ahmed’s would want to have more broad access to sexual assault evidence kits, she believes that not every victim will utilize them.

“Some survivors never admit that they have been sexually assaulted and may prefer to share their story with a counselor, while others may opt to seek help from a sexual assault center,” Villeneuve-Ahmed explained.

“This may happen at any time; it isn’t necessarily just after a victim has been subjected to sexual abuse.”

Source: Global News

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