KNIGHTSTOWN, Ind. — Sexual assault survivors in Hancock, Henry and Rush counties now have a place to receive care that doesn’t require them to find a ride out away from home.
“That’s a barrier to receiving much needed medical treatment in some instances, that’s a barrier to just making sure your body’s okay, making sure that everything is functioning and working the way it should,” Aimee Herring, Hancock County Chief Deputy Prosecutor, said. “[Driving a long distance] is a barrier to receiving medications for potentially sexually transmitted infections, a check for pregnancy at no cost to the survivor, that is a barrier to disclosure to law enforcement if you choose to report.”
Hancock Health, in partnership with Henry Community Health, Rush Memorial Hospital and the prosecutor’s offices in Henry and Hancock Counties, launched the sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) program at the Knightstown Health Care Center. Located along US 40 in Knightstown, the clinic is centrally located for survivors in Hancock, Henry and Rush Counties.
“We want to do what we can do in order to try to get them passed this extremely traumatic time in their life,” Craig Felty, Chief Nursing Officer with Hancock Health, said.
The clinic will not only offer survivors access to forensic medical exams but treatment and mental health care too.
“These are all things that should be accessible to survivors without putting more barriers and obstacles in front of them,” Herring said.
Herring wants survivors to know that just because you seek treatment does not mean you have to report the assault or pursue charges.
“Those two things are separate, but they can coincide and happen together if the survivor chooses,” Herring explained. “It just makes it easier and more accessible if a survivor has access to a convenient location within their own community.”
But, Herring explains that time is of the essence if a survivor does choose to report.
“It makes prosecution much harder when you don’t have the evidence,” Herring said. “So, if somebody does seek an examination and it’s 4,5,6,7,10 days later, and so the medical forensic portion of the examination doesn’t yield any forensic results that we can use for prosecution then ultimately that leads in a less likelihood of us filing a case.”
The Knightstown Health Care Center is located at 224 West Main Street in Knightstown. It’s open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.
When the clinic is closed, survivors may visit emergency departments at Hancock Regional Hospital or Henry Community Health to be connected with a qualified nurse examiner. Survivors can call the facility at (765) 345-5572.
Since the program launched about two and a half weeks ago, the clinic has cared for four survivors.
The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking reports one in three women and one in 71 men will be raped at some time in their lives in the United States. 63% of assaults are not reported to law enforcement for a variety of reasons—including fear of retribution, PTSD, or feelings of shame or guilt.