November 11, 2012 was the day that forever changed my life. I was the victim of a severe domestic violence assault. I have permanent injuries from that awful morning. My then 3-year old son witnessed the entire assault. It was very overwhelming to deal with the aftermath of this and to pick up the pieces on all fronts. Initially, I told myself that no one would ever know about this and that I would not speak of it. After some time lapsed, I felt the need to discuss my story with the hope that people can learn from it.
I participated in the DVC's Truth Leadership training in August of 2013 and I started attending the Hope Advisory Council monthly meetings. The DVC has provided many opportunities for involvement. It was a huge honor to share my story to the Douglas County Sheriff's Chaplain's Unit as part of a training that the DVC was providing. Since then, I have spoken at two more educational/training opportunities. Also, I had the opportunity to travel with Tara to the Nebraska Legislative Update day. Participating in the Community Safety Assessment was very healing to me as well. The DVC's Public Policy Committee simply amazes me. I am proud to be a member. In July of 2014, I became the coordinator for the Hope Advisory Council. The DVC has given me hope again. They have given me a renewed sense of faith and have given me a strength that I thought I had lost. I truly believe that I survived that brutal domestic violence assault for a reason. With every step I take, my purpose becomes clearer. The DVC's commitment to the community and to the survivors is priceless.
It was more than 10 years ago when Heidi Wilke was sexually assaulted in a dark, secluded area of Omaha. Rather than hide from the crime that took so much from her soul, she decided to do something for other survivors of sexual assault in the Omaha community. Through her efforts, the SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)/SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) was established at Methodist Hospital. Sexual assault survivors can seek treatment at the emergency department at Methodist Hospital or Methodist Women's Hospital and receive a caring examination, in a safe environment, done by a medical provider who is specially trained in the area of sexual assault. The only program of its kind in Omaha, the care team at Methodist works cooperatively with law enforcement, Women's Center for Advancement, Heartland Family Services and other community agencies to provide services that go beyond the initial exam.
SANE/SART nurses are on call 24/7 and work jointly with our partnering advocates when a survivor arrives either privately or accompanied by law enforcement. Each survivor that enters the doors receives one on one care and examination. Careful evidence collection occurs and resources needed from local agencies are discussed. Each survivor leaves feeling cared for, but also prepared, for the days and months that follow their assault.
Because many survivors of sexual assault are also victims of domestic violence, this Fall Methodist will be expanding its services to care for those impacted by domestic violence. The program expansion was due in large part by a generous $25,000 donation from All About Omaha - a community group dedicated to enhancement of programs in the Metro.
SANE/SART staff received additional training in the areas of domestic violence examinations, recognition of warning signs, questioning and support of those victims. They will facilitate referrals to community agencies and obtain forensic documentation and specimen collection.
From its inception, the Methodist SANE/SART program has played an integral role in the treatment and support of sexual assault survivors in the community and stands ready to do the same for victims of domestic violence.