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Louisville, Ky. (WDRB) -- They're not your typical gun toting crime fighters. WDRB's Jennifer Baileys examines how nurses are taking on the role of investigators.
"We're looking for body fluids, so what we're looking for so saliva, seminal fluid,' said Melissa Edin, U of L SANE.
She's often the first line of defense for a rape victim. Melissa Edin is University Hospital's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or SANE Coordinator.
"When you're in the nuts and bolts of an exam you do what you need to do to get that victim through," said Edin.
Part of that is gathering every piece of evidence possible by using a kit. The DNA and other evidence can be used up to a year later to prosecute.
"You have to have trauma in order for you to experience fear," said Edin.
Edin is currently training 10 nurses at UofL's Shelby Campus to become SANES. She says the registered nurses from around the state have to complete 40 hours of initial SANE training and 60 clinical hours including how to perform the exams before graduating.
The SANE program is part of UofL's Trauma Center. There are eight sexual assault nurse examiners on staff, they performed more than 315 exams last year, at UofL and at the Center for Women and Families.
"They're given the option instead of being seen in the ER and sitting there with somebody who is drunk for somebody who has the flu or broken arm and they just got assaulted, we will pay for a cab and they can come to the clinic and be seen here," said Marta Miranda, center president.
Director Marta Miranda says the Center For Women and Families has a partnership with University, Baptist and KentuckyOne Health allowing SANE nurses to perform exams at the Center's clinic and it's completely free to the victim.
"So when they come in directly after the assault and have their sexual assault nursing exam we have an advocate there who explains, talks to them about the process of the trauma to help normalize some of what's gone on," said Cindy Guertin, Director of Clinical Services.
The Center for Women and Families recognizes about three percent of American men have experienced attempted or sexual assault, that's why the clinic serves both men and women 14 years old and up.
"Most of the sexual assault clients are not living here, the folks that are living here are domestic violence survivors and their kids. The reality is though now that we're doing a lot of deepening of assessment of our clients a lot of times sexual violence is part of domestic violence," said Miranda.
That's not a new trend. The FBI estimates 9 out of 10 rapes go unreported, but as the SANE program gains partners like the Center, advocates hope those statistics will change.
"It's just meeting them where they're at, with no bias, no judgements umm not being judgmental and just really listening to what they have to say and that alone can be huge for them," said Edin
The exams are paid for by the Crime Victim's Compensation Board.