You are not alone and what has happened to you is not your fault. This is just one of many important messages that Island Health’s newly launched four-part Forensic Nurse Examiner video series aims to impart.
“Island Health’s forensic nurse examiners are critical and they provide such an important service for survivors, who then are empowered to take action and get help,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “I encourage people to watch the video series and learn about what is available from these dedicated professionals who are here to make a difference.”
Forensic nurses see patients of all genders who have or may have experienced sexual, interpersonal or intentional violence within the past 7 days. This includes waking up and not knowing what has happened. Patients should ask to see a forensic nurse if they feel they have been violated in some way, or they are unsure and want someone to help validate them.
“It’s so important that survivors of sexual assault, or instances of violence, feel safe, protected and cared for,” said Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “Services provided by Island Health’s forensic nurse examiners ensure survivors can access trauma-informed, patient-centred health care and support. We have seen cases of gender-based violence rise during the challenges of COVID-19. It is crucial that people know help is available and that they are supported when they access the health care they need.”
“Sexual assault is the most under-reported violent crime in Canada that is not declining and 90% of these crimes go unreported, so the number of cases seen by a forensic nurse is very low, compared to the actual number of cases,” said Aimee Falkenberg, Island Health’s Coordinator for the North and Central Island Forensic Nursing Program. “My Island Health colleagues and I wanted to create a video series about forensic nursing so that survivors know who they can turn to.”
The 4-part video series explains what forensic nurses do, the specialized care they provide, how they can be accessed, and what to expect when cared for by a forensic nurse.
“It may be helpful for people to know that there is more than one option for care, and you don’t have to report the sexual assault to the police,” said Jan Calnan, Island Health’s Coordinator for the South Island Forensic Nursing Program. “Forensic Nurse Examiners are specially trained to listen, document and assist with the healing journey and nothing is shared without the survivor’s consent.”
One of the videos outlines the types of trauma that bring survivors to ask for a forensic nurse and why Island Health provides this specialized service that is available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day at Emergency Departments, urgent care facilities and stand alone clinics. “We can’t change what happened to someone who has experienced violence or trauma, but we can change how they are cared for afterwards and how the world recognizes them as a survivor,” said Sheila Early, Forensic Nurse Educator, and one of the founders of the forensic nursing program in Canada.
Introduction to Forensic Nursing: youtu.be/ipgfPGPLeSw
A Patient’s Journey with a Forensic Nurse: youtu.be/N2JTbAXbmQI
3 Options for Care after Experiencing a Sexual Assault: youtu.be/ddtw_AqS93w
Forensic Nursing at Island Health: youtu.be/E0VwP4OF2Ek