If you are currently hurt or in danger, call 911.
If you are in a safe space, what happens next is your choice. In a perfect world, there would be no sexual violence. Everyone would ask for consent.
However, we don’t live in a perfect world. That’s why it is important for people to have choice in how they deal with sexual violence. After a traumatic experience that is all about force, choice is crucial.
The South Shore now has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program. You can walk into the hospital emergency rooms at Liverpool, Lunenburg, and Bridgewater, and get help.
The local SANE program is designed for people 16 and older. If you’re under 16, Child Protection will become involved, and any exams are done at the IWK in Halifax.
If you are old enough, what does happen locally?
You will be triaged by a nurse in the emergency room. They will ask why you are visiting the hospital. At this point, you should be invited into a private room to wait for the SANE. This will be a nurse with specialized training in working with people who have been sexually assaulted. Women may ask for a support person from Harbour House or Second Story Women’s Centre to come sit with you. (Friends and family can always provide support during the process.)
The forensic exam can be detailed. Part of the reason why the forensic exam is so long is that you are asked for your consent at every step.
The hospital will also see to your health. Any injuries you have will be tended, and you will be offered treatment for potential infections or unplanned pregnancy, like emergency contraception. Each case is different.
Experiencing sexual violence is traumatic enough—the process for dealing with it afterwards shouldn’t make it worse—it should support people in taking the steps they need to heal, whether that’s physical, mental, or legal.
What are the options if you or a friend/family member has been assaulted? First off, remember sexual violence is never the fault of the victim. Believe the person and support them—especially if it is yourself.
If the assault just happened, there are injuries, or people are still in danger, call 911.
Go to the local emergency room at Liverpool, Lunenburg, or Bridgewater.
Call the 24-hour support line at Harbour House, a local transition house. Their number is 1-888-543-3999. They can help the survivor get to safety, even to the point of paying for a taxi to get them there.
Finally, other professionals are there to help you. Ask them what they know about the SANE program.
Visit our contact page for further information.