For those who are fortunate enough not to know, in the world of sexual assault SANE means Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. This nurse is responsible for evidence collection and post-assault examination and is often the first person a rape victim speaks to after the police.
I reluctantly called my sisters to let them know I was being taken to the hospital. One of my sisters is a social worker, so late night/early morning hospital visits were within her realm of expertise. My other sister was distraught - I hated seeing the pain on her face.
The city I lived in at the time has a very nice, fairly well-funded women's center. They sent an advocate to sit with me while the SANE nurse did her work, and I wish they hadn't. The woman they sent was, in a word, bizarre. She went on about how uncomfortable or painful parts of the evidence collection would be, and looked me over as if I were a specimen in a jar. She stared at me and asked weird, pointed questions, like, "Did he lick your ear?" She was just an awkward human being, and I was extremely uncomfortable with her in the room. I know she was a volunteer and I'm sure she meant well, but in retrospect I would have preferred to have one of my sisters with me.
By contrast, the SANE nurse who collected the rape kit and performed my exam was a consummate professional. She exhibited a perfect balance of professionalism and courtesy, and she made me as comfortable as possible during the exam. She explained in detail the variety of drugs I would take over the course of the next week and their side effects. She was calm and thoughtful without being condescending or making me feel worse than I already did.
As an aside, I find that this is one of the things people never talk about regarding the aftermath of sexual assault. The drugs they give you to combat STDs, specifically AIDS, and prevent pregnancy make you sick ... or at least, they made me sick. So, to add insult to injury, a raped woman is made ill for days by the antibiotics and other drugs and then must submit to repeated testing to make sure the rapist hasn't given her something that will kill her.
I never got the opportunity to thank the SANE nurse who worked with me that morning - I was in shock and wasn't thinking clearly for most of the time she and I spent together. I hope she realizes that being good at her job is a rare and wonderful thing, and that her title is more than just an acronym. "Sane" is the very thing she helped me feel in the midst of horror and chaos. I will always be grateful for her.