For Immediate Release:                                         April 27, 2015

Community Based Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Programs

(Halifax, NS) – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  People and communities across Nova Scotia and throughout Canada are saying it is time to put a stop to sexual violence and to ensure that people who have experienced it have the services they need to heal and to move forward in their lives.


When someone has experienced sexual assault they require sensitive, specialized, trauma-informed care. Nova Scotia has two well established, well respected, community-based Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs with nurses on call 24/7 to respond to the acute emotional, medical and forensic needs of victims of sexual assault.  Nova Scotia SANE Programs are looked to as a model to be emulated by others across Canada.


Susan Wilson, Avalon SANE Program Coordinator states, “We have a very successful community based model which boasts one of the highest SANE retention rates in the country, enhancing the strength of the entire program. Satisfaction of clients, nurses, and community partners is outstanding. Having the SANE program based in an organization that has a dedicated and solid understanding of sexualized violence and uses a trauma informed lens in every aspect of the work we do is the fundamental reason for the program’s success.”


Heather Blackburn, Antigonish SANE Program Coordinator says, “By accessing community-based SANE programs, people who have experienced sexual violence are accessing a full range of supports – immediate medical care, follow-up counselling, specialized trauma therapy and criminal justice system information.”


SANE trained and certified nurses may provide a complete Medical-Forensic exam which involves a head to toe physical assessment with injury assessment and documentation along with the collection of evidence for use in a court of law. Pregnancy testing, emergency contraceptive and STI prophylactic medications are also offered to victims.  Victims are provided with options of care, whether to report to police, and make the decisions about how they want to proceed.  Both the Avalon SANE program and the Antigonish SANE program can freeze evidence with the consent of victims for up to six (6) months.  SANE care includes safety assessment and planning, as well as information on medical, social and psychological follow-up.


Both the Avalon and Antigonish SANE programs respond to victims of sexual assault of all genders (including trans-identified people) within 5 days (120 hours) after a sexual assault.


The Avalon SANE program responds to victims of sexual assault/abuse of all ages at four healthcare sites within the Halifax Region: the QEII Health Sciences Centre; the Dartmouth General, the IWK Health Centre, and the Cobequid Community Health Centre.


The Antigonish SANE program responds to victims over the age of 13 within north-eastern Nova Scotia and the Strait area, including: the Aberdeen Regional Hospital ER, the Saint Martha’s Regional Hospital ER, the St. Francis Xavier University Health Centre, the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services Association, Guysborough Memorial Hospital, and the Strait Richmond Hospital ER.”


SANE services we can be reached anytime by contacting the response sites, or by calling the Avalon SANE response line 902‑425‑0122 (available 24/7) or Antigonish SANE crisis line 1-877-880-7263 (available 24/7)




About Avalon Sexual Assault Centre

The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization working to eliminate sexual assault/abuse, and to change the current socio-political culture that fosters sexism, social injustice and other forms of oppression.


About Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services

The Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre (AWRC) is a feminist, community based women’s organization which opened in 1983. SASA stands for Sexual Assault Services Association.



Susan Wilson                                       Heather Blackburn

SANE Program Coordinator                     SANE Program Coordinator

Avalon Sexual Assault Centre                  Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre & Sexual Assault Services

t: (902) 422-6503                                  t: (902) 863-6221

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