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Sexual Assault Support Services

What is Sexual Assault? 
Sexual assault is any sexual act in which a person is forced to engage against their will. This may include unwanted touching by a stranger or someone you know. It can happen anywhere, at any time of the day. It is very important to get a medical forensic exam after a sexual assault even if you don’t think you have any wounds or if the assault occurred a while ago. 

Help is Here
Every two minutes, someone in the United States is sexually assaulted. In Berrien County, more than 300 children (16 years and under) and 40 adults (over age 17) reported being sexually abused or assaulted in 2014. These numbers are only a glimpse into the number of sexual assaults in our community and country. Less than half of people report their assault. 

Lakeland Health has a team of highly-trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) available 24 hours a day to care for those who have been sexually assaulted. The Sexual Assault Support Services team can help sexual assault survivors begin the healing process immediately by providing specialized care to help them live full and happy lives.

A referral is not needed and services are available for patients of all ages.

What is Sexual Assault Support Services? 
Sexual Assault Support Services is provided by Lakeland Health. Our healthcare professionals refer patients of all ages to our team of speciallytrained nurses. At Lakeland, we provide one-to-one care with our patients. This allows our team the ability to build trust with our patients so that we can give them with the best care possible.

Safe, Private, and Tender Care
Our team is here to help anyone affected by sexual assault – not only right after, it happens, but also days or weeks after an assault. We provide tender care designed to meet each patient’s medical and emotional needs, with services that include:

  • A medical forensic exam and record
  • Help with concerns about sexual infection and pregnancy
  • Discharge planning and referrals to the right services, such as police departments, shelters, or counseling services
  • Support for your emotions
  • Assistance with billing through the 
  • Safe Response program

We're Here for You
Our staff is available 24 hours a day to treat patients in the Emergency Departments at:

  • Lakeland Hospital, Niles
  • Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet
  • Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph

If it has been more than three days since an assault happened for children under the age of 13, or more than five days since an assault happened for people 13 years or older, you would go to a SANE Clinic and not the Emergency Room. Call for an appointment at (269) 687-1401. You will be given directions to the SANE Clinic at that time.

What Should I Expect During My Visit? 
We will meet with you and/or your child to discuss any questions or concerns you might have. Each visit is based on your needs. Visits often include a complete exam by our nurses. We’ll also spend time talking one-to-one with you and/or your child to get a complete medical history. By the end of the visit, we hope to have a better picture of you or your child’s health. The length of the visit may vary, but you should plan to set aside three hours.

How Should I Prepare My Child for the Visit?
It is a good idea to schedule your day so that your child is well-rested and well-fed before the exam. Please bring your child’s favorite toy, blanket, book, or anything else that will help them feel safe. Most of all, please explain to your child that we are here to help.

What Happens After a Visit?
Once we have a clear picture of you and/or your child’s health, we can help with next steps. Our nurses work with you, to easily connect you with any needed necessary information or follow-up care. We would like you to contact us with any questions or concerns.

For more information about the SANE program, call toll free 1-866-976-7263 (SANE) or (269) 687-1880. You do not need to provide your name when calling for resources. 

Medical Referral 
Medical providers can learn more about referral guidelines for Sexual Assault Support Services by clicking here

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