You Said “No”, now say “Yes” to Professional Support

posted by Jessica Dirks on Wednesday, April 20, 2022

SANE: Nurses Specifically Trained to Help Survivors of Sexual Assault

You said “No.” Yet, the sexual assault happened anyway.

Although you may feel alone at the moment, you’re not. Clay County has an active SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) consisting of caring professionals ready to help and provide support.

The Clay County SART team consists of the experts in the fields of medical care, law enforcement, prosecution, and community support services through CAASA (Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault).  All services are confidential and provided at no cost.  

I am a registered nurse who is trained and certified as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, and am a member of the Clay County SART. Currently, two other Spencer Hospital Nurses are SANE certified – Emily Elbert and Tyne Kabrick - and we encourage more nurses in the community to consider completing this special training.

We are specially trained as nurse examiners for any person of any gender who has experienced a sexual assault.  We are trained to care for survivors of sexual assault so they don’t feel more traumatized than they already are. Each SANE nurse learns how to provide a comprehensive exam and provide specialized medical care. SANE nurses can offer a range of services from a physical exam to medications for prevention of sexually transmitted infections and/or pregnancy, to as simple as just a listening ear.

As a survivor of sexual assault, we value your option to CHOOOSE. As a SANE nurse, I am trained to inform and support any choices made by a survivor. We are trained to perform a forensic exam to collect possible evidence, which can then be use by law enforcement if the survivor chooses to file a report.  Proper evidence collection and documentation can help assure the survivor has the best outcome from a legal standpoint, if they choose to continue through the legal process. Sexual assaults are grossly under-reported in our society, with survivors being scared to report the assault for a variety of reasons. Our goal is to meet your needs and provide you with choices. Presenting to the emergency department for care does NOT require any type of law enforcement involvement if it is not wanted.

Advocacy, community resources and support are of utmost importance for the survivor of sexual assault. CAASA serves a large, 19-county region of northwest Iowa. Sexual assault survivors can seek services from any hospital emergency room, provider practice, law enforcement agency or directly from CAASA.

For more information regarding the SART program, contact CAASA at 1-877-362-4612. Also, if any nurses wish to obtain more information about becoming a SANE nurse, I’m happy to share my experiences. You can email me at

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About The Author

Jessica Dirks

Jessica Dirks, RN, currently serves as a Clinical Informaticist at Spencer Hospital. Her professional experience includes working in the hospital’s Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit and Medical-Surgical Unit. She’s a TNCC (Trauma Nurse Core Curriculum) instructor, as well as a ... read more