You may ask how collecting more than 500 bras could help sexual assault victims. Survivors are asked to hand over their clothing during a forensic exam because the Department of Justice Crime Lab reports that bras are a common clothing item where evidence is found.
In an effort to obtain the best evidence and assist the victims with their needs, Southwest Healthcare System along with CASA (Center Against Sexual Assault), RARCC (Riverside Area Rape Crisis Center), Riverside County Regional Medical Center and Circle of SAFE-T collected bras at various drop sites throughout the county so that survivors may have replacement clothing free of charge.
“Victims face very real dangers and express concerns about disclosing the events that occurred, especially when they are related to domestic violence,” said Nicole Yadon, RN and SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) Coordinator at Southwest Healthcare System’s Rancho Springs Medical Center in Murrieta. “We work closely with local law enforcement, the Family Justice Center, SAFE Alternatives for Everyone, Riverside Area Rape Crisis, Center Against Sexual Assault, and the District Attorney’s Office to provide victims whatever help and support they need.”
Approximately 60 percent of sexual assaults are never reported to police (RAINN, 2009). Southwest Healthcare System hopes to decrease this percentage, but victims have the right to decline speaking with law enforcement officials and will receive support regardless of their decision. Victims also have the right to privacy, to evidence collection, to be treated with compassion and dignity, to be educated about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, to be tested for HIV and to receive follow-up care.
SART is active in outreach and community education. The Riverside County Board of Supervisors recently recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month with a proclamation presentation. The program is a priority for Southwest Healthcare System, as a sexual assault occurs every two minutes in the United States (RAINN, 2009).
The Circle of Safe-T program has helped approximately 200 sexual assault victims since it began in August 2012. For more information, visit www.circleofsafe-t.com