Giving Sexual Assault Survivors Time to Decide: An Exploration of the Use and Effects of the Nonreport Option
Giving Sexual Assault Survivors Time to Decide: An Exploration of the Use and Effects of the Nonreport Option is organized by Wolters Kluwer.
Published: March 2014
• ANCC 2.5 CH
• DC - BON 2.5 CH
• FL - BON 2.5 CH
Purpose of Activity:
To present information about a study that examined the implementation of the nonreport option in Texas and the impact this option has had on sexual assault nurse examiners, survivors, and the criminal justice system.
Forensic nurses, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), and victim advocates have long recognized the trauma of sexual assault crimes and the significance of survivors' decisions around reporting these crimes to law enforcement agencies. The original Violence Against Women Act of 1994 focused on establishing new penalties for these crimes and creating a program to address domestic violence and sexual assault (the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program). But until recently, survivors of sexual assault were not entitled to a free medical forensic examination unless they reported the assault to law enforcement. Because these crimes are physically and emotionally traumatic, and because there may be complicating factors (for example, the perpetrator may be a family member, or the survivor may have been using illicit drugs at the time of the assault), survivors often aren't immediately ready to report such assaults. And this has meant that many survivors also haven't received the medical care they urgently need.
In a significant policy shift, the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 provided an additional decision option with regard to the medical forensic examination for survivors of sexual assault. This provision, referred to here as the nonreport option, was established to offer survivors a full range of reporting options and to ensure exemplary health care, with evidence collection as an important secondary goal.1, 2 Specifically, it mandates that survivors of sexual assault be afforded medical forensic examinations even if they choose not to cooperate with law enforcement or participate in the criminal justice system, and that states must pay for these examinations regardless. The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 preserves the nonreport option.
This provision recognizes the complex nature of crimes of sexual assault, as well as the competing needs and requirements of survivors and those who provide response services to survivors and prosecute offenders. For all those involved-survivors, rape crisis center advocates, forensic nurses and SANEs, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors-the nonreport option continues to present a major shift from past policy and practice, even though some programs and facilities have recommended and used delayed or anonymous reporting (or both) for many years.3 Also, although we use the terms nonreport option and nonreport case, it should be noted that some experts call for more precise language intended to avoid misperceptions about the purpose of medical forensic examinations.1, 2 For example, Lonsway and Archambault specifically recommend the term "victims who have not yet made their decision to report to police or [to] participate in the investigation."1
After completing this continuing education activity you will be able to:
• identify the reasons for the authors' study and describe the study methods and findings.
• recognize the effects the implementation of the nonreport option has had on sexual assault nurse examiners and survivors.
Topics: Sexual Assault
- Contact Hours : 2.5
Number of Health Care Professionals Registered: 0 Number
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